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Veterans may qualify for social security disability benefits

Veterans residing in Maryland or elsewhere may be qualified to receive social security disability benefits. Although there is a VA program that provides disability benefits for service-related disabilities, that is separate from the Social Security disability program administered by the Social Security Administration. The SSA program, which is open to veterans and non-veterans alike, doesn’t require the veteran to prove that the disability is connected to military service.

Some veterans may be unaware that this benefit is potentially available. In order to apply, they must contact the Social Security Administration and submit an application for benefits. Generally, an individual can qualify for Social Security disability benefits if he or she is disabled and unable to engage in any gainful employment activity. Prior work credits are also required for initial qualification, which is based on the person’s age and numbers of months and years worked in the past.

Generally, the disability determination is made by the SSA based on medical records from the applicant’s doctors, hospitals, and other medical, rehab, and counseling services. The SSA may require that the applicant be examined by one or more medical or occupational experts prior to the disability hearing. The applicant may also have to answer numerous questions about the extent of the disability to determine what work functions may remain. Thus, some applicants are denied benefits despite proving a disability. For example, if the disability prevents one from working construction, but the person can still run a cash register in a convenience store, in some cases benefits will be denied.

Although in Maryland and elsewhere the initial application process can be started by the applicant alone, he or she should quickly bring on board an experienced Social Security disability attorney to handle the case thereafter. Generally speaking, most people are turned down for benefits after the initial application and interview. An appeal is then taken, which often leads to a hearing before a disability hearing examiner. After the initial determination, the process is for the most part far too complicated and specialized for a claimant to successfully maneuver the waters alone.

Source: Miami Herald, "University of Miami legal clinic helps secure benefits for ill Army veteran", Monica Disare, July 4, 2014

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