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Veterans often face battle at home for disability benefits

Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have come home as heroes, but many are worse for the wear. Combat wounds are honored with a Purple Heart, but combat is just one of the many ways that active-duty soldiers can suffer injuries and health problems.

A Washington Post report reveals that about 2.6 million service members have been deployed to the two battlefronts since 2001. Of these, more than half say they have come back in worse physical and/or mental health. Yet nearly 80 percent of these service members also said that they weren’t seriously hurt in combat. This speaks to the myriad of physical and psychological problems associated with the non-combat side of military life during war time.

While service members are prepared to make sacrifices, they may not be prepared for how these non-combat injuries will affect their lives when they get home. Whether physical or psychological, their injuries and health problems prevent some service members from continuing their military career and make it significantly harder to work civilian jobs.

Hopefully, most of these veterans can receive the help they need from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration. According to the Washington Post article, 45 percent of “those no longer serving in the military” have applied for financial compensation due to service-related disabilities. The VA says that 37 percent have received a disability rating that will allow them to receive lifelong payments.

Depending on their disability status with the VA, some veterans may also be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. The SSA recently announced that veterans with a VA designation of 100 percent disabled will have their SSD claims fast-tracked and expedited at nearly every step of the process.

If you are a military veteran who suffered debilitating injuries during active duty, you may be eligible to receive financial support in the form of SSD benefits. After working with the VA to determine your disability status, you may find it helpful to speak with an experienced Social Security disability attorney.

Source: The Washington Post, "The Other Wounds," Rajiv Chandrasekaran, April 8, 2014

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