Veterans who return from active duty with a lingering illness or injury may find themselves in a difficult financial situation. If your condition is so serious that it prevents you from working a full-time job, you may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
Unfortunately, filing SSDI claims is rarely easy. Every applicant must adhere to certain procedures, and most initial applications are met with a denial from the Social Security Administration (SSA). In all, it may take up to two years for a case to resolve, and the claim must progress through multiple appeal phases.
Speaking with a lawyer from VetLaw’s team before submitting an application for benefits can make a substantial difference in your ability to file a successful SSDI claim. If your initial SSDI claim was denied by the SSA, we can help keep the case moving forward through the appeals process.
Filing an SSDI claim is a major legal undertaking, and veterans must be prepared to provide clear and persuasive evidence of their eligibility for disability benefits from the SSA. For example, a former servicemember must prove that they suffer from a diagnosed medical condition which prevents them from performing any full-time job and that has lasted or can be expected to last one year or more.
The second part of an SSDI claim is demonstrating sufficient work history. As workers pay income taxes, they earn credits for the SSDI program. To qualify for SSDI benefits, a worker must have accumulated no less than 40 credits, 20 of which must have been earned within the last 10 years.
However, most qualifying veterans meet resistance in the SSDI claims process concerning the extent of their medical conditions. If the SSA does issue a denial, every applicant retains the right to file an appeal.
Veterans who receive denials for their SSDI claims may pursue an appeal. Every former servicemember has 60 days from the date of receiving the denial letter to request an appeal. A first appeal asks the local Social Security office to reconsider the claim. This option allows an applicant to submit additional medical evidence.
It is an unfortunate fact that most initial appeals result in a subsequent denial. At this point, an applicant can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This is a veteran’s best chance to achieve a favorable outcome, and a skilled lawyer can help present your case to the ALJ.
Up to two years can pass between when an initial application is filed to when a former servicemember must attend an administrative hearing. A successful SSDI claim may result in the issuance of retroactive benefits dating back to the initial application.
SSDI claims require precise attention to detail and a thorough understanding of applicable laws. It is essential to prove that you not only suffer from a disabling condition, but that you also have sufficient work credits to collect benefits.
A failure to satisfy either of these elements will lead to a denial from the SSA. Fortunately, every veteran retains the right to appeal a denied claim within 60 days. Working with an attorney may be your best chance for success.
Our team can advise you on gathering relevant medical evidence, completing all necessary paperwork, and appearing in person to argue your case before an ALJ. Contact a lawyer from our firm today to learn how they can help you.