Kauai Veterans Corner: News You Can Use

Various benefits for veterans

There are three benefits available: VA Disability Compensation, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Although not common, a veteran may receive all three benefits provided he/she meets each of the following criteria:

VA Disability Compensation is a federal program which compensates veterans for physical and mental disabilities resulting from injury or disease incurred while serving on active duty or was made worse by active military service. The amount of compensation ranges on a scale from 10 to 100 percent depending on the extent of the disability. Receiving VA disability compensation does not, in itself, prevent a veteran from continued employment.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program intended to provide income to people who are unable to work because of a disability. SSDI is intended to be provided until their condition improves, and is intended to guarantee income if the individual’s condition does not improve. SSDI is a social insurance program, and benefits are only granted after a lengthy determination process, whereby the applicant must prove that they are totally disabled.

Social Security law defines totally disabled as the “inability to do any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medical determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” To meet this definition, you must have a severe impairment which makes you unable to do any job whatsoever (part-time or full-time) in the national economy.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal welfare, or needs-based program which is administered by the Social Security Administration for people who demonstrate financial and resource poverty, in addition to medical disability.

For additional information concerning VA disability, contact the Kauai Office of Veterans’ Services at 241-3348. For SSDI and SSI information, contact Kauai’s Social Security Office at 245-6709.

What is VA Disability Compensation?

Disability compensation is a tax-free monetary benefit paid to veterans because of injuries or diseases which occurred while serving on active duty, or were aggravated by active military service. You may be eligible for disability compensation if you have a service-related disability and you were discharged under “other than dishonorable conditions”. The amount of monetary benefit depends on the severity of the disability(s) as supported by verifiable medical evidence. You may apply for disability by completing VA Form 21-526EZ and submitting it to the VA’s Evidence Intake Center in Janesville, WI. You are encouraged to include a legible copy of your military discharge documents, marriage and children’s birth certificates and supporting medical evidence.

Social Security benefits for Wounded Warriors

Military service members can receive expedited processing of disability claims from Social Security. Benefits available through Social Security are different than those from the VA and require a separate application. According to its website, the expedited process is used for military service members who become disabled while on active military service on or after Oct. 1, 2001, regardless of where the disability occurs. For more information, visit Social Security’s Disability Benefits for Wounded Warriors page at: http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10030.html#pay.

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Tony Elliott, Kauai Office of Veterans’ Services, can be reached at 241-3348.

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