Many members of the Armed Forces place themselves at particular risk of harm nearly every day in service to their country. As a result, many of them suffer long-term harm and disability from war-related injuries or other service-related injuries. Fortunately, veterans qualify for a range of benefits, such as Social Security disability, that compensate them both for their service and their disabilities.
A recent report from the Government Accountability Office noted that many veterans-nearly 60,000-are benefitting from receipt of Social Security disability benefits, as well as military retirement pay and Veterans’ Affairs disability benefits. The total amount received by these veterans reaches approximately $3.5 billion. Although some argue that this “triple dipping” should be changed, many others argue that veterans deserve to receive these benefits for their years of service and the resulting permanent disabilities that resulted. Prior to 2001, veterans could not receive both Veterans’ Affairs disability benefits and military retirement. Since a law change in 2002, however, veterans have been able to access a greater range of benefits.
The majority of the veterans receiving multiple types of benefits suffer from severe disabilities. Approximately 80% have at least a 50% disability rating. When a individual suffers from a serious disability, working is often difficult if not impossible. Receiving disability benefits can be the one thing that separates a person from living in extreme poverty.
Although disabled individuals who have worked have a right to Social Security disability benefits, filing SSD claims is not easy. There are many different eligibility criteria and applicants must show that they meet each one in order to avoid having their application denied. Additionally, there are special procedures in place in some instances to streamline and expedite the adjudication process for veterans. Discussing a case with an experienced attorney can simplify the process and reduce the time an applicant spends waiting for benefits.
Source: PBS News Hour, “Report: 60,000 veterans got triple benefits last year-legally,” Matthew Daly, Nov. 1, 2014