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How to Qualify for Social Security as a Veteran

May 6, 2017

If you are a veteran, you might be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). These benefits are available for Americans who have worked throughout adulthood. You can actually receive SSDI benefits and VA disability at the same time. A big difference between the two programs is that you must be “completely” disabled to receive SSDI benefits, meaning that you cannot be physically able to earn more than around $1,200 per month to qualify for SSDI.

 

Medically Qualifying for Social Security

 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a medical guide known as the Blue Book to evaluate all disability applications, veterans included. The Blue Book includes test results or symptoms needed to qualify for Social Security benefits. Here are some Blue Book listings that veterans may qualify for:

 

Traumatic Brain Injury

 

To qualify with a TBI, you will need to meet one of the following criteria:

 

  • You have difficulty moving at least two limbs, which results in limitations in your ability to stand up from a seated position, balance if you’re walking or standing, or use your arms. You’ll need at least three months’ medical evidence proving limb movement difficulty.

  • You have severe difficulty with one of the following: remembering or understanding information, interacting with others, completing tasks, or taking care of yourself (bathing, eating, etc.). Again, you’ll need three months’ evidence to qualify.

 

PTSD

 

The PTSD listing is long and complicated, so be sure to review it (and any other Blue Book listing) with your doctor. You’ll need to prove that you’ve had exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or violence in the past. While service in combat zones may be considered part of this criteria, you’ll also need to show that you have re-experiencing of the event, extreme avoidance of potential triggers, a mood disorder caused by the event, and more.

 

Amputation

 

There are a few ways to qualify with an amputation under the Blue Book:

 

  • Both hands are amputated;

  • One or both legs are amputated above the ankle, and you’re unable to walk with prosthetics;

  • One hand and one leg is amputated, and prostheses do not enable mobility;

  • One leg is amputated at the hip;

 

Hearing Loss

 

If you’ve required a cochlear implant due to hearing loss, you’ll automatically qualify for disability benefits. Otherwise, you can qualify if you recognize less than 40% of standardized phonetically balanced words, or have low scores in standardized air conduction hearing tests. Your audiologist can help you determine if you’re able to qualify under this listing.

 

Starting Your Application

 

If you’d like to begin the application process, you can apply online on the SSA’s website. This is the easiest way to apply, as you can save your progress to be completed at a later date if you wish.

 

The average claim takes around 3-5 months, however if you had become disabled after October 1, 2001 and were on active duty  (regardless of location), or if you had been rated 100% permanently and totally (also known as 100% P&T) disabled by the VA, you may qualify for expedited benefits. Some illnesses like PTSD and hearing loss are challenging cases to win, so don’t be discouraged if you’re denied. The SSA has a thorough appeals process available to applicants who are initially denied, and 50% of claimants are eventually awarded benefits if they fight a claim.

 

Your best option to avoid a denial is to fill out your application as meticulously as possible! If the SSA cannot gather your medical records, you will not be approved.

 

This article was written by the Outreach Team at Disability Benefits Help. They provide information about disability benefits and the application process. To learn more, please visit their website at http://www.disability-benefits-help.org or by contacting them at help@ssd-help.org.

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