Are You Entitled To Veterans Disability Benefits?

Veterans Disability Benefits

At the Manchester, NH Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC, we are honored to provide information and assistance to those who have worn the uniform of the United States of America and are entitled to veterans disability benefits. There are many excellent resources for veterans to begin the process of determining if they are entitled to veterans disability benefits. The most informative websites of the federal government are the Social Security Administration and the Veterans Administration (VA). For residents of New Hampshire, information is available through the State Office of Veterans Services. Helpful private websites include Vets HQ, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and Disabled American Veterans (DAV).

Many veterans are unaware that they are entitled to veterans disability benefits through the Social Security Administration. Military service members can receive expedited processing of disability claims from Social Security through the Wounded Warrior allowance. Benefits available through Social Security are different than those from the Department of Veterans Affairs and require a separate application. The expedited process is used for military service members who become disabled while on active military service on or after October 1, 2001, regardless of where the disability occurs.

Social Security pays veterans disability benefits through two programs: the Social Security disability insurance program, which pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are “insured,” meaning that you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes; and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which pays benefits based on financial need.

Certain members of your family may qualify for veterans disability benefits based on your work. They include:

  • Your spouse, if he or she is age 62 or older;
  • Your spouse, at any age, if he or she is caring for a child of yours who is younger than age 16 or disabled;
  • Your unmarried child, including an adopted child, or, in some cases, a stepchild or grandchild. The child must be younger than age 18 or younger than age 19 if in elementary or secondary school full time; and
  • Your unmarried child, age 18 or older, if he or she has a disability that started before age 22. (The child’s disability also must meet the definition of disability for adults.)

NOTE: In some situations, a divorced spouse may qualify for veterans disability benefits based on your earnings if he or she was married to you for at least 10 years, is not currently married, and is at least age 62. The money paid to a divorced spouse does not reduce your benefit or any benefits due to your current spouse or children.

For more information on determining if you or another veteran may be entitled to veterans disability benefits, or for assistance with filing a claim for veterans disability benefits, contact the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC at (603) 624-7200.

Backlog Improves, But Vets Still Struggle for Veterans Disability Benefits

veterans disability benefits - Veteran on WheelchairIn this month’s Let America Know newsletter brought to you by the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, it is noted that story after troubling story about veterans disability benefits continue to appear in news reports across the country. Veterans apply for the veterans  disability benefits they were promised in service to their country, only to wait a year or more as huge backlogs at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) delay their requests. If a request for veterans disability benefits is rejected and appealed, the average wait time balloons to 3.5 years. And to add insult to injury, nearly 74 percent of those appeals in 2012 were either reversed in favor of the vet by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals or sent back because of errors by VA staff.

Given the poor health and age of many vets – 1.7 million World War II vets are still alive while a million Vietnam vets are turning 65 – many die before they or their survivors ever see a penny, according to Returning Home to Battle, an ongoing investigation of the troubled VA by the Center for Investigative Reporting.  “It’s beyond tragic,” said Bonnie Carroll, founder of Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. When a veteran dies without his or her veterans disability benefits, she said, families face not only the financial burden of medical bills and burial costs, but also emotional distress from the “loss of connection to the military that their loved one served and sacrificed for.”

While the VA has shown progress in reducing the veterans disability benefits claims backlog (first-time requests pending 125 days or longer), significant problems remain, according to many veterans advocates. Since March 2013, the backlog has been cut from 611,073 to 244,602 claims as of Oct. 4. Yet, the average wait time for a response to a claim has increased from 291 days to 345 days during the same time period.

 

NH disability lawyers provide information on Social Security’s “Listings”

            Meeting a Social Security Listing

Listing-of-ImpairmentsWhen you apply for disability benefits, you must prove that you meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) definition of disability.

According to the NH disability lawyers at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, Social Security defines disability as the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity because of a medically determinable condition or conditions that has lasted 12 consecutive months (or is likely to last 12 consecutive months) or result in death.

How do You Prove that You are Disabled?

There are three approaches you can take to prove that you meet Social Security’s definition of disability; 1) meeting a “listing” (the focus of this article);  2) meeting the SSA’s medical-vocational guidelines, and; 3) proving that your capacity to perform even a simple, sit-down, entry-level job has been so reduced by your impairments that you would not be a reliable worker 8 hours a day/5 days a week.

What is a Listing of Impairment?

social security disability formThe SSA’s listings describe medical problems for 14 different body systems which are deemed serious enough to prevent you from functioning in a full-time work setting.  The full list of the 14 categories are found here. If your medical/mental health condition meets a listing, the SSA assumes you cannot work and you, therefore, do not have to introduce any other evidence about your work capacity. If, however,  you do not meet a listing, you will have to introduce additional evidence about your diminished work capacity.

In this regard, listing level cases are usually decided faster since the SSA does not have to evaluate anything other than medical evidence.  If your case meets a listing, there is a good chance it will be approved at the initial stage.

 

 

NH Disability Attorneys

NH disability attorneys share information about Social Security cost of living increase

The NH disability attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC are pleased to share this Social Security Administration press release announcing a 1.7% benefit increase for 2015. Information about Medicare changes for 2015 is available at the Medicare website.

For help with a disability claim, contact the NH disability attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman at (603) 624-7200. A Manchester social security disability attorney will be able to help you determine your qualification status, and what you will need to do to move through the process.  Our team is prepared to assist you with your filing so that you can reach a resolution as quickly and smoothly as possible.

We’re standing by to represent you and we guaranteed to have the training and experience to be able to handle your case. We pride ourselves in being the go-to representatives for a wide variety of disability lawsuits. We help our clients receive the compensation they deserve for their disability claims.  We handle social security disability cases throughout the state.  It is important to stay patient during this process .

By working closely with our clients and understanding their unique requirements, claims and goals, we help them take the most appropriate steps toward the best possible resolution.