According to a recent press release from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the VA and the Social Security Administration (SSA) have just launched a new program that is designed to get Veterans the VA and Social Security disability benefits they desperately need in a faster and more efficient manner than ever before. This is likely an effort in response to the great deal of backlog and criticism facing both agencies that it is taking way too long for people to get approved for much needed disability benefits.
As part of the joint initiative, both agencies will put medical records in a database that can be accessed by either agency. The reason for this is because most disabled Veterans will first go to VA for benefits, and then once they have a determination, will go to the SSA for additional disability benefits. However, when they apply for benefits at the SSA, they generally have to start from scratch and compile and submit their medical records again. To get an idea of how many records we are talking about, the SSA typically requests 15 million medical records each year from various health care providers and the VA. The reason for the VA requests is that many of the doctors who treat disabled veterans work for the VA or are part of the VA healthcare system. With this new system, the SSA will be able to get these records electronically without the need to make all of the requests. This will save money as well as time.
However, while it will be faster to get a disability benefits award for the VA and then apply for benefits at the SSA, it does not mean that you will be successful, at least initially. As our Boston disability benefits attorneys can explain, it is fairly common for the VA to make a finding that a person is 100 percent permanently disabled, and then the SSA will make a finding that this same person is not disabled. The reason they are able to do this and are not bound by the VA determination, or a doctor’s determination for that matter, is because they do not use the same definition of what it means to be disabled as doctors or other federal agencies. They use a set of guidelines that were largely written in the 1970s and tend to favor a finding that the claimant is not disabled.
For this reason, if you are a disabled veteran who has been awarded benefits by the VA, and then had your initial application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits denied, it is important to speak with an experienced disability attorney as soon as possible to help you with your request for reconsideration and later appeal. The earlier you get an attorney to assist you, the better your chances will be that you will receive a full and appropriate award of SSDI benefits. Another reason it is important to seek help promptly is because there are important time limits that can prevent you from being able to appeal if you do not act in time.
If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
VA and Social Security Partner to Speed Up Disability Decisions for Veterans, November 9, 2016, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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Social Security Disability Judges Allegedly Used Racial and Sexual Terms on Claimants’ Applications, July 27, 2016, Boston SSDI Lawyer Blog