March 28, 2014
Expedited Social Security Disability Hearings for Veterans
“Starting March 17, 2014, veterans who have a VA compensation rating of 100% permanent and total (P&T) may receive expedited processing of applications for Social Security disability benefits.” This is a direct quote from the Social Security Administration’s website. This is great news for 100% disabled veterans. In my Indiana law office, we have already seen the results of this rule. Social Security has called us to schedule expedited hearings for several of my clients who are disabled veterans, in some cases cutting months off of their expected waiting time for their hearings.
Unfortunately, I have had to explain to my clients that just because the VA has assigned them a disability rating of 100% permanent and total, it does not mean that Social Security is required to find them disabled as well. The Veteran’s Administration and Social Security have different rules and different definitions of disability, so they do not always reach the same conclusion after evaluating the same person. While your VA disability rating letter is important evidence in your Social Security disability claim, it does not guarantee you will be found disabled. The only advantage this rule gives to veterans with a 100% VA rating is a faster processing time for their claims.
There are a few ways to apply for Social Security Disability benefits:
- Complete your application online.
- Call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778 for deaf or hard of hearing).
- Call or visit your local Social Security Administration office.
- If you want to apply in person, it is best to call beforehand to schedule an appointment.
To receive the expedited hearing:
- Identify yourself as a “veteran rated 100% P&T”
- If you apply in person or over the phone, inform the Social Security representative that you have a veteran rating of 100% P&T.
- If you apply online, enter “Veteran 100% P&T” in the “remarks” section of the application.
- Submit your VA letter that verifies your rating of 100% P&T to the Social Security Administration.
Even though your 100% rating will speed up the processing of your claim, a disability application and appeal can still take a relatively long time. If your application is denied, you must still go through the necessary steps to get to the hearing stage. The length of time for the entire process varies from person to person. According to the Social Security Administration’s website there are three main factors that can affect the length of the process:
- The character of your disability
- How fast the SSA is able to obtain your medical records
- Whether or not the SSA needs to send you to a medical examination to gather additional evidence
As I said before, since this program went into effect, we have seen more than a few of our clients get hearings scheduled in a much more timely manner. If you are thinking about applying for Social Security Disability benefits and have a 100% P&T rating from the VA, make sure you include this information with your application. If you have questions or concerns about this new rule, feel free to contact your local SSA office, a Social Security disability attorney, or a claimant representative. Most attorneys and claimant representatives offer a free consultation.