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SSA’s Role in the Wounded Warrior Project

May 4, 2012

In order to help expedite claims for our military service members who have become disabled while serving our country, SSA became part of the Wounded Warrior Project. The mission statement of the Wounded Warrior Project is “To Honor and Empower Wounded Warriors.” The Project will achieve this by:

          Raising awareness and enlisting the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members
          Help injured service members aid and assist each other
          Providing unique, direct programs and services to meet the need of injured service members
One such program is the Wounded Warrior Initiative provided by SSA. This is an expedited process used for military service members who became disabled while on active military duty on or after October 1st, 2001, regardless of where the disability occurred.
It is a wide misconception that if a service member receives military pay and is on active duty that this would disqualify him or her from receiving SSA benefits. SSA encourages service members to apply for benefits as soon as they become disabled to see if they qualify. While working and earning over SGA (Substantial Gainful Activity, currently $1,010 for 2012) may disqualify a non-service applicant, for a Wounded Warrior applicant the actual work activity is the controlling factor in deciding disability and not the amount of pay received or military duty status.
Disabled service members are encouraged to apply for benefits as soon as possible. This can be done either in person, by phone, mail or online by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/woundedwarriors. The service member will be asked to provide his or her original birth certificate, Form DD 214 if discharged from service, W-2 form or income tax return from last year, proof of military pay or worker’s compensation, Social Security numbers of minor children and spouse (if applicable), contact information for a third party if you are unavailable, and any medical records you have or that you can easily obtain from all military and civilian sources.
Once the application is made and the claim is identified as being a military service member claim, the process will be expedited through all phases of processing, both at Social Security and Disability Determination Services.
Service members who are awarded retroactive Social Security benefits may also become entitled to Medicare Part A for months before they receive the disability award notice. Effective October 2009, TRICARE beneficiaries who are awarded retroactive benefits do not have to enroll in Part B for those months in the past and can keep their TRICARE coverage as long as they enroll in Part B currently. Service members need to contact the Department of Defense to find out whether they need to enroll in Medicare Part B in order to keep TRICARE coverage. For more information about TRICARE and recent changes to the law, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/legislation/tricareinfo.html.
A service member may remain on active duty while receiving disability benefits, however, it is important that the service member contacts Social Security right away if there is a change in:
          Military Occupational Specialty Code (MOS)
          Air Force Specialty Codes (AFSC)
          Navy Enlisted Classification (NEC) or
          Permanent Change of Station (PCS)
To SSA, these are potential indicators that a service member may be returning to work. If a service member does wish to return to full-time employment, he or she is encouraged to use the Benefits Planning Query, which allows the service member to check the status of benefits, work history, health insurance and more. A copy of the Benefits Planning Query can be downloaded from SSA’s website,  http://www.socialsecurity.gov/.
The Wounded Warriors Initiative is an exciting advancement in regards to how SSA is making the disability determination process more efficient and effective. Not only that, but our military service members will get the respect and treatment they deserve after giving so much for us and our country.

2 Comments

  1. Michael R on March 1, 2020 at 3:47 pm

    I am currently waiting for a judge for SS disability case, for final decision, I started process around 2 years ago. I am supposed to have an expedited case through Victory, but it does not seem expediated.

    • balinlawadmin on March 18, 2020 at 9:38 pm

      Hi Michael,
      Thanks for leaving us a comment about this. Please contact our office at 866-49-BALIN (866-492-2546) and we can possibly look into your situation.

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