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Social Security provides expedited aid

By George Compton
Saturday, May 10, 2008

Today's column is provided by Essie Landry, Social Security public affairs specialist in West Los Angeles. I would like to thank Essie for this timely and critical information.

Men and women serving in the U.S. military who become disabled while on active duty are receiving "expedited processing" of disability claims from Social Security. The expedited process is for military service members who were disabled on or after Oct. 1, 2001, regardless of where the disability occurred. People in the military can apply for and receive benefits even while receiving military pay.

And to make things easier for our servicemen and servicewomen, we've developed an easily accessible Web site all about benefits for wounded warriors. Whether you're stateside or deployed abroad, just visit The Web site has everything you need to know about Social Security and military service — including a link to apply for disability benefits online.

As Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue said, "I want to assure the brave men and women of our armed forces and their families that they will not have to wait for these needed benefits. Expedited processing is just one way Social Security can show our military personnel how much we appreciate their service in defense of our freedom."

Once the application for Social Security disability benefits is taken, it is uniquely identified as being from a U.S. military service member, and it is expedited through all phases of processing, both in Social Security and the state Disability Determination Service, where the actual medical determination of disability is made.

Disabled military personnel may apply for disability benefits at any time while in active military status, or after discharge, whether they are still hospitalized, in a rehabilitation program or undergoing out-patient treatment in a military or civilian medical facility.

It is important to understand, however, that the definition of disability under Social Security is different than the definition of disability for veterans' benefits. To be considered disabled under Social Security, you must be unable to do substantial work because of your medical condition(s); and your medical condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least one year or be expected to result in death. Also, Social Security does not provide benefits for partial disability or short-term disability.

Military servicemen and servicewomen can receive expedited service whether they apply for Social Security disability benefits online or in person at the nearest Social Security office. The online site for applications from military personnel is Disability applicants can also call 800-772-1213 (TTY at 800-325-0778) to schedule an appointment at their local Social Security office.

— George Compton, retired Army colonel, is the veterans service officer for the County of Ventura, Human Services Agency. Send your questions to Veterans Service Office, 1701 Pacific Ave., Suite 110, Oxnard, CA 93033; phone number: 385-6366; fax: 385-6371; or e-mail:

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