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Improving access to benefits for Wounded Warriors

Everyone has probably heard the term Wounded Warriors but do you know what it means or who qualifies? Typically it is referring to those members and veterans of the US Armed Forces who were injured or became ill while on active duty since 2001 in the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. In 2007, the Social Security Administration (SSA) increased its efforts to serve our Wounded Warriors. For those of us that have served or are serving, we have all seen the signs at the Exchange/PX saying personnel in uniform have head of the line privileges, well that is what the SSA program equates to according to a newsletter written by the NOSSCR.

It’s a long article and I could not find an electronic version of it but I will take the liberty of using some of their “bullet” points. First of all a Wounded Warrior needs to be identified in the SSA system which can occur in two ways – through self-identification on the application or through weekly electronic updates from the DOD. Once identified in the system, SSA uses the “critical case/TERI” expedited process to adjudicate the Wounded Warrior claims as summarized below. – if the claim comes through the SSA 800 number, an interview must be scheduled at an SSA field office within 3 working days. -once the application is sent to the DDS, the filed office must follow up with the DDS within 7 days to ensure receipt. DDS or Disability Determination Services is a state agency that determines disability.

DDS staff must prioritize the case for adjudication and explore all potential physical and mental impairments, including suggestive signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). -at the hearing level, cases are to be scheduled in the first available open hearing slots. The NOSSCR Social Security Forum newsletter contains a lot more information describing other problems and delays and how the SSA, DOD and VA are working on improving the processes involved.

If you know a Wounded Warrior, first of all thank them for their service and if they need help give them a hand. We would be glad to speak with them about any Social Security Benefits for which they may be entitled. Our team of experienced lawyers and staff of the Harrell and Harrell law firm is proud to serve the many veterans in Jacksonville and surrounding communities of North Florida.