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Disabled U.S. service members may seek SSDI benefits

Many U.S. service members from Philadelphia bravely fight for our country in war-torn areas, risking both their health and lives for our freedoms. Unfortunately, many will return from service with severe injuries that significantly impact their everyday lives. While some of them may seek disability benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, others may also wonder if they are also eligible to seek Social Security disability benefits as well.

While both the VA and the Social Security Administration have programs to provide eligible service members with disability benefits, the criteria for being awarded benefits through each program is very different. While VA benefits may be paid for partial disabilities, this is not so with SSD benefits. When applying for SSD benefits, the applicant must fall under the SSA's strict definition of what it means to be disabled. This means that the applicant must not be able to perform substantial work due to their disability and the applicant's disability must last for at least 12 months or be fatal.

That being said, in certain circumstances, service members seeking SSD benefits may have their application expedited. This may be the case if the veteran's VA compensation is 100 percent permanent and total. How long it will take the SSA to determine whether to award a service member SSD benefits depends on the nature of the service member's medical condition, how quickly the SSA is provided with evidence from the service member's physician regarding the service member's disability and whether or not the service member needs to undergo a medical examination per the SSA.

As this shows, some service members from Philadelphia may be able to apply for SSD benefits as well as VA benefits, and some may see their SSD benefit applications expedited. However, this post cannot serve as the basis for an SSD application or guarantee any particular outcome. Instead, service members seeking SSD benefits should make sure they receive the specific legal advice from an attorney to complete their applications for benefits in a timely and appropriate manner.

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Pennsylvania Bar Association Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee