The Social Security Administration vows that claims for disability benefits from certain disabled veterans are going to get fast-track attention; starting next month.
Considering that many veterans, both long retired and others more recently discharged, often wait years for a determination of benefits, the announcement by the SSA last week surely comes as good news.
It's important to note that the decision does not apply to all veterans seeking disability insurance benefits.
The policy change affects only those applicants who have received 100 percent disability status by the Department of Veterans Affairs. While officials say they don't know exactly how many veterans will become eligible for speedier review as a result, the SSA estimates it could be tens of thousands.
Another thing to note about the policy change is that it does not mean that benefits will be guaranteed. Officials say it just means that claimants will get decisions more quickly.
Advocates for veterans' issues are hailing the change in general, but some observe that government promises are not always matched by action. Critics say there are other steps that could and should be taking to eat away at the backlog of claims at both the SSA and VA.
Filing for disability benefits from Social Security is a complex process. Making sure that all the required paperwork is filled out and supported by complete records can test anyone's patience. And when claims are denied, as they so often are, appeals present a new set of frustrations. The help of an experienced attorney can be incalculable in such circumstances.
Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Social Security to expedite veteran disability claims," Yvonne Wenger and John Fritze, Feb. 18, 2014