With all the troops forward deployed to places like Iraq and Afghanistan during the global war on terror, we are seeing more and more young men and women returning home from the battlefield with severe and permanent disabilities.
Some of these disabilities are physical in nature and involve loss of one or more limbs, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other health issues caused by fighting in the Middle East. Many others were lucky enough to return without suffering physical injuries, but now suffer from debilitating mental conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
When these wounded warriors return home, many of them will be given a medical discharge while others will simply separate from their military service with no benefits at all.
With all of the problems with the Veterans Administration (VA, many are now turning towards Social Security Administration (SSA) programs like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
A recent article from Asbury Park Press, discusses how SSA will expedite the claims process for disabled veterans. Specifically, SSA will expedite processing for current service members who are disabled, and for veterans who were injured on or after October 1, 2011. This program was obviously put in place to help veterans following the September 11th attacks. Additionally, SSA will expedite claims processing for veterans who already have a 100 percent disability rating from VA.
However, as the article notes, this program only expedites the process for applying for SSDI benefits. It does not increase the chance you will actually be awarded disability benefits under the SSDI guidelines. As our Boston SSDI attorneys can explain, SSA routinely denies more than half of all applications for disability benefits despite whether or not they should be entitled to benefits. In other words, speeding up the process, may only be speeding up the time it takes to get denied for disability benefits.
If you are a disabled veteran, and are considering applying for benefits or are already in process of applying, you should consult with an experienced disability benefits attorney as soon as possible as it may greatly increase your chance of obtaining a full and appropriate award of benefits.
One of the reasons SSA is able to deny so many applications has to do with how the application process works. Most, if not all applications are initially denied. At this point, applicants can apply for reconsideration in what is essentially the first appeal. This first appeal is submitted in writing and reviewed by another SSA employee who is typically on the same level as the employee who initially denied your application..
After a series of denials, claimants can petition for a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). An ALJ is hired by SSA to hear appeals and make a decision as to whether claimant is disabled or not. At this hearing, doctors and so-called vocational experts also paid by SSA will be there to offer testimony as to why you should be denied benefits. If you have your own attorney, he or she will be able to present evidence to counter what SSA provides, and fight for your rights to disability benefits.
If you are seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
More Blog Entries:
Hanson v. Colvin: A Critical Look by a Court of Appeals on a Denial of Benefits, August 14, 2014, Boston Disability Lawyers Blog