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What 'wounded warriors' need to know about securing disability benefits - II

In a previous post, we began exploring how members of our nation's armed forces who suffer a disabling injury are eligible for benefits through both the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Disability Insurance program.

Indeed, we discussed how "Wounded Warriors" who suffered their injury or illness while on active duty anytime on or after October 1, 2001 receive expedited processing of their disability claims from the Social Security Administration.

We also discussed how servicemembers are also able to receive benefits for a prior disability even if their health has since improved -- i.e., for a "closed period of disability" -- so long as they are able to satisfy several factors.

According to the SSA, the factors that must be met in order to secure disability benefits under these circumstances include:

  • The servicemember must submit medical evidence demonstrating that he or she was unable to perform substantial work because of their condition for a continuous 12-month period.
  • The servicemember must file the application for benefits within 14 months of the disability ending.

It's important to understand that while qualifying servicemembers can receive up to 12 months of retroactive disability benefits, there will nevertheless be a five-month waiting period starting from the first full month of the disability that must run before payment can start in earnest.  

As for the more general issue of whether being on active duty status and receiving military pay prevents the payment of disability benefits, the SSA indicates that this is not necessarily a deal breaker. Indeed, the controlling factor is always the work activity being performed, if any, not any pay received or duty status.

If you are one of the brave men and women who suffered some manner of disabling injury while serving in our nation's armed forces and who has questions about this understandably complex topic, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional. 

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