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Veterans and disability benefits: can claims be expedited?

At least one out of five adult recipients of Social Security is a military veteran. When one adds in family members, veterans and their families make up about 35 percent of the adult beneficiary population for Social Security.

How many of those vets are disabled? According to federal data from 2010, the number of disabled veterans under the age of 66 who were receiving Social Security benefits at that time was 771,000. That is nearly three-quarters of a million people.

Not surprisingly, a large percentage of disabled veterans younger than 66 served in the Vietnam War. That percentage is 61 percent, which is more than three out of every five.

Now, of course, veterans from more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are joining the ranks of Vietnam vets and veterans from Desert Storm. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has its hands full, trying to keep up.

The VA says it has processed nearly a million disability claims in each of the last two years. But the VA admits that there is still a lengthy backlog of claims.

In an attempt to address this, the VA has announced that it will no longer require an annual report from veterans called the Eligibility Verification Report (EVR). According to the VA, this will free up a number of VA employees to work on clearing the disability claim backlog.

The VA is not completely doing away with verifications of benefit eligibility. But instead of requiring its own form, the VA will work with the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration (SSA) to handle the necessary verifications.

The improved coordination between the VA and the SSA also includes an expedited process that wounded vets can use to gain access to their Social Security disability benefits.

Source: "Military affairs beat: VA cuts pension eligibility red tape," Star Tribune, Mark Brunswick, 12-25-12

Additional source: "Military Veterans and Social Security: 2010 Update," Socialsecurity.gov

Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Michigan Social Security disability page.

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