Yesterday, Social Security announced a plan to expedite Social Security disability claims for veterans who have been found 100% disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Let me explain why that was a bad decision.
- This is NOT about expediting disability claims for wounded warriors. Social Security was already doing that. This announcement expedites disability claims for veterans whose disabilities are NOT the result of combat. You ask how that can be. Easy. A veteran gets VA service connected benefits for virtually ANY disability incurred while in military service. Heart attacks, cancer, off base automobile accidents, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney failure, etc. The only things excluded are disabilities which are the result of the veteran's own willful misconduct or abuse of alcohol or drugs
- To expedite disability claims for one group of people is to delay them for everyone else, which is no minor matter when we consider the severity of the backlogs at Social Security. Vets receiving 100% service connected VA benefits for non-combat related disabilities are undeserving of this special attention because they already have substantial incomes of more than $2,800 per month. They can be hurting somewhat financially but most Social Security disability claimants are hurting much worse because they do not have any disability benefit from their former employer. If anyone gets expediting, it should be those who are in serious financial distress, not vets already receiving 100% service connected benefits.
- This new policy makes it NO more likely that vets drawing 100% service connected benefits will be approved for disability benefits by Social Security. It's only expediting. I strongly suspect that this was a cynical attempt to head off legislative proposals that would automatically grant Social Security disability benefits to those who had been approved for 100% service connected VA benefits.
Vets deserve our respect. We owe them a lot. They certainly deserve compensation for their service connected disabilities. Those who are disabled by combat related injuries deserve special treatment at Social Security. However, vets with non-combat disabilities don't deserve to have their disability claims expedited at Social Security.