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Yes, some veterans and service members are eligible for fast-track processing of claims for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the two programs through which Social Security provides benefits for people with disabilities.
This expedited processing is available to current and former military personnel who fall into at least one of two Social Security categories:
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Wounded warrior. You served on or after Oct. 1, 2001, and became disabled while on active duty. It doesn't matter where the disability occurred — it need not be combat-related — but it must have happened during the period of active service.
100 percent P&T. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) considers you to be fully disabled, meaning you have a 100 percent permanent and total (P&T) compensation rating.
Those are the conditions for fast-tracking. For those applications to be approved, veterans and service members also must:
- Meet the Social Security definition of disability, meaning they have an injury or medical condition that prevents them from doing substantial work and is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.
- Meet other eligibility criteria to qualify for SSDI or SSI. Those are related to the applicant's work history or income and financial assets.
Social Security estimates that the average SSDI benefit in 2023 will be $1,483 a month. (That's for all recipients, not just veterans.) The maximum federal payment for an individual receiving SSI is $914 a month.
You can apply for SSDI online, by phone at 800-772-1213 or in person at a local Social Security office. Local offices fully reopened April 7 after being closed to walk-in traffic for more than two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Social Security recommends calling in advance and scheduling an appointment to avoid long waits.
In most cases, SSI claims must be filed by phone or in person, but you can apply online in limited circumstances.