SWAT officer in full tactical gear.A Chicago disability attorney can assist wounded warriors

It’s not uncommon for veterans to return from service with severe wounds or debilitating psychological conditions. In November 2013, Forbes reported that over 900,000 veterans had already been wounded in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. As any Chicago disability attorney knows, these injuries and residual effects can interfere with various aspects of daily life.

Disabled veterans who can no longer work gainfully may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. However, the wait for claim approval can be lengthy. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration has made the claim decision process more efficient for the most severely wounded warriors.

Faster decisions

In 2014, the SSA announced that it would expedite claim processing for certain veterans, according to The Baltimore Sun. Veterans with “100% Permanent & Total” compensation ratings from the Department of Veterans Affairs now qualify for faster processing.

This change may affect many veterans. In 2012, the VA provided disability benefits to about 360,000 veterans. Roughly 10 percent of them qualified as permanently and totally disabled. The SSA estimates thousands of veterans may eventually benefit from this change.

As a Chicago disability attorney can explain, the new policy does not affect the likelihood of claim approval. The SSA is not bound to determine a veteran is disabled based on the veteran’s VA compensation rating. Veterans can only receive SSD benefits if they meet distinct SSA criteria.

Determining eligibility

The SSA only awards benefits for conditions that are expected to last over one year or result in death. A person’s condition must prevent the person from reasonably engaging in any gainful employment. The SSA also requires a person to qualify as “insured” based on his or her earnings record.

Unfortunately, veterans who qualify for SSD benefits under these criteria may still experience delays in claim processing. VA policies can slow the process, according to The Baltimore Sun. Veterans may wait over a year for VA decisions, since the average claim requires 165 days to process. Additionally, the SSA notes that the following factors affect the speed of SSD claim decisions:

  • The availability of medical evidence. If health care providers are slow to furnish requested records, the decision will be delayed.
  • The need for further evidence. Claim processing will be set back if the SSA orders a consultative exam to secure additional medical information.
  • The disability itself. Conditions that are complex or less easily documented — for instance, psychological conditions — may require more consideration.

In light of these potential delays, disabled veterans may benefit from working with a Chicago disability attorney. An attorney may be able to help a veteran prepare a well-documented claim that can be processed without delays.