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New memorial a reminder of disabled vets’ need for support

Last weekend, President Barack Obama spoke at the opening of a newly unveiled memorial for wounded veterans, known as the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, commemorating the sacrifices veterans make in their service and the challenges they face on coming home.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 21.2 million military veterans in 2012, and it is estimated that about four million vets are currently disabled. These disabilities can be either physical, mental, or both, and range in severity. In many cases, service-related disabilities impact a vets’ ability to work and support themselves and their families. 

Vets are able, of course, to obtain disability benefits through the Veterans Administration. Benefits may also be available to vets through the Social Security Administration, and in certain cases veteran applicants can qualify for expedited processing. Veterans who have been awarded a compensation rating of 100 percent permanent and total disability through the VA may qualify for this expedited process.

The important thing for vets to realize about Social Security disability benefits is that the disability determination process is different than that used by the Veterans Administration. The Social Security Administration does not award partial benefits, and one must not exceed a minimum income, termed substantial gainful activity. One must be completely unable to work and one’s condition must be expected to last at least one year or to result in death.

Expedited processing for vets does not guarantee Social Security disability benefits, but appeals are available in the Social Security disability application process. It can help, of course, to work with an experienced attorney if an appeal becomes necessary.

Source: PBS Newshour, “U.S. dedicates memorial honoring disabled veterans,” Carey Reed, October 5, 2014.

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