Posts Tagged ‘Veterans Affairs’

SSA Begins Expediting Disability Claims for Vets

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As previously announced, the Social Security Administration (SSA) launched their initiative to expedite the processing of Social Security Disability claims for veterans who have been issued a 100% disability rating by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA). SSA released instructions to its employees for processing these claims on March 17, 2014, the day before acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin issued a press release touting the initiative as “another milestone for those who have sacrificed so much for our country.”

Per the instructions, Social Security Disability applicants who provide SSA with proof that they have been issued a 100% permanent and total disability compensation from the VA will be provided with expedited claim processing through all levels of development, adjudication, and appeal. The instructions indicate that a new flagging process has been added to their claim handling system to ensure the claim gets priority processing. The VA rating does not guarantee an award of benefits, however, as a disability examiner will still need to determine whether the veteran also meets Social Security’s strict standards of disability, but a 100% disability rating from the VA will move the application to the forefront for a quick decision.

 

Social Security Expedites Claims for Veterans

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The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced a new initiative to expedite the processing of disability claims for veterans with a 100% disability rating issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  To meet the criteria for expediting benefits, a veteran must provide proof to SSA that the VA has determined that they have a disability compensation rating of “100% Permanent & Total” by providing a copy of their VA Notification Letter.  Ideally, this would be provided with the application for disability benefits in order to experience truly expedited handling.  The VA rating does not guarantee an award of benefits, however, as a disability examiner will still need to determine whether the veteran also meets Social Security’s strict standards of disability, but a 100% disability rating from the VA will move the application to the forefront for a quick decision.

This is the latest effort by SSA to hasten the application process for those who most clearly meet the criteria to receive disability benefits.  Expedited handling for veterans claims will begin in mid-March.  Disability applications are now expedited for those with terminal illnesses, those with medical conditions categorized as compassionate allowances, service members wounded in combat, and those experiencing dire financial hardship.  If you believe you may meet the criteria for expedited claim handling, contact The Advocator Group at (877) 261-1947.

 

VA Behind in Revamping Disability Program

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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers one of the nation’s largest and most overburdened disability compensation programs, providing veterans with cash benefits based on loss of earning capacity as a result of “service-related” disabilities.  However, its rating schedule, used to assign the degree that a veteran has lost the capacity to work, is outdated relative to advances in medicine and the job market.  Because of this, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) did a study on the issue, looking into “VA’s progress in revising the ratings schedule with updated medical and economic information” and “the opportunities and challenges of various policy approaches” to updating the benefits structure. 

 As a result of the study, GAO recommended that Congress “may wish to direct VA to conduct focused studies on various approaches to modernize disability benefits and, if necessary, propose relevant legislation.”  While the study does not provide any clear guidance on next steps, it is obviously critical that VA maintain a current rating system that reflects today’s medical and labor market information to ensure that returning veterans receive the benefits they have earned as a result of their service.

Why a life-changing disability doesn’t have to disable your life

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At The Advocator Group, we can alleviate the financial stress of a debilitating disability by securing Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for our claimants. But that’s only part of the challenge that someone with a disability faces. We are hoping that stories of inspiration can help disabled individuals overcome some of those challenges and allow them to return to living a full life.

So with today being Veterans Day,  there’s no better opportunity to introduce you to someone who has met the challenges of becoming disabled head-on, and continues to live every day to the fullest.

Kirk Bauer lost his leg to a hand grenade in the Vietnam War, and for the past 41 years, he’s dedicated his life to inspiring others to pick up the pieces and make the most of their lives after a disability. Through his work as the Executive Director of Disabled Sports USA, Kirk uses competitive sports to show people that disability isn’t the end, but rather the beginning of a great new chapter in life.

Disabled Sports USA is a national nonprofit organization that provides disabled Americans with the opportunity to develop physical independence through sports, recreation, and education.

Kirk had his first experience with the organization when he returned from the battlefield in 1969. It had just been founded two years earlier by a group of other Vietnam and World War II veterans. At the time, the small group of organizers could only offer skiing instruction to other veterans who were returning from war with life-changing disabilities.

“When I came back I had one leg, I had shrapnel in me, and it took seven operations and six months for them to put me back together again,” says Bauer. “I was faced with what many of these young men and women [returning from Iraq and Afghanistan] are faced with now. I didn’t know who I was anymore.”

In the hospital, Kirk was approached by fellow veterans who recommended that he try working with the organization they had started, Disabled Sports USA. He started skiing and noticed immediate benefits from the exercise. (more…)

SSDI benefit checks to go electronic in 2013

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We have important news for anyone who receives checks in the mail from Social Security. As of March 1, 2013, the U.S. Department of the Treasury will pay all federal benefit and non-tax payments electronically.

This applies to anyone receiving  payments from Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Veterans Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board, Office of Personnel Management, or the Department of Labor.

In May of 2011, those who were filing for Social Security benefits had to chose a form of electronic payment, covered here below. In March of 2013, this change will apply to everyone else already receiving their Social Security payments through a check in the mail.

Electronic payments are a good thing. They’ll get you your money faster. You now have two options for your electronic payments:

1) A direct deposit payment right into your bank or credit union account.

2) A Direct Express® debit card, where no existing bank account or credit check is required.

If you’re already receiving payments, you’ll have to choose between these two options by March 2013 or your payments will automatically be routed into a Direct Express® debit card. Here’s how you do it:

  • For direct deposit: Sign up online at www.GoDirect.org; call 800-333-1795; or visit your local bank, credit union branch, or federal benefit agency office.
  • For a prepaid debit card: You can enroll online at www.GoDirect.org, call 800-333-1795, or notify your local federal benefit agency.

If you’re applying for benefits now, you’ll have to make this choice during the application process. If you want direct deposit, just have your account type (checking or savings), account number, and your financial institution’s routing number on hand. If you prefer the Direct Express® card, just notify your federal benefit agency when you enroll.

GoDirect.org has more information about the changes being made, how the new payments will work, and answers to some frequently asked questions. If you have any more questions, write to us or leave a comment here and we’d be happy to answer.