Do Veterans Receive a Fair Disability Evaluation?

veterans disability ssdi thurswell law

At the end of October 2023, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR) voiced concerns before the United States House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means to highlight injustices being experienced by United States veterans regarding the current disability evaluation process. Qualifying for aid is not an easy process for anyone – but it can be even more difficult for veterans who carry invisible wounds.

The Sad Disregard for VA Disability Findings

NOSSCR wants veterans to be honored for their service with an unbiased process and fair chance to receive Social Security disability. Unfortunately, the system they encounter involves:

  • Lengthy delays
  • Inefficiencies
  • Lower odds of being found disabled than non-veterans
  • Refusal of benefits
  • Infliction of further hardship

NOSSCR claims a disregard for Veterans Affairs (VA) disability findings, which began with the removal of the treating physician rule in 2017. This move means Social Security adjudicators are no longer required to consider VA findings. Once upon a time the VA medical evaluations carried weight in determining eligibility for benefits. In fact, VA providers’ evaluations can be ignored or discarded by Social Security, a position that is hard to believe when a veteran has already been deemed disabled by the VA.

The proposed solution from NOSSCR is to reinstate and strengthen the consideration of VA findings in the Social Security disability adjudication process to rectify imbalances and confront biases that have negatively affected veterans.

Unique Challenges Faced by Veterans Seeking SSDI

There are many definitions of “disability.” The Social Security Disability program has created a Listings of Impairments to describe the medical criteria a person must meet to be considered disabled and eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This document is lengthy and detailed, which you might think makes it easier to be specific about what disability is in play, but the all-encompassing nature of the impairments makes specificity a challenge. The criteria needed to qualify for a particular disability are not always obvious.

Veterans find themselves in a tricky position, often dealing with “invisible” mental health disabilities that make medical diagnosis and documentation even more critical, including, especially, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Every SSDI case requires medical documentation to serve as evidence of the life-altering condition that has caused someone to be disabled and prevented them from working. The most important paperwork for an SSI or SSDI applications is medical records. Failing to include this information – even if it is available – will lead the reviewers to assume medical treatment was not sought, the applicant can work as-is, and does not qualify for benefits. It’s an applicant’s job to prove they should be given benefits.

Advocating for Disabled Veterans

Working with a Social Security Disability attorney makes it possible to navigate the application to win benefits from the start and avoid having to file an appeal and lose time. For veterans who have served this country, the burden to access disability should not be so difficult. Get support from Thurswell Law, a team that has won thousands of disability cases. Schedule a consultation by calling (248) 354-2222 today. We do not charge any fees until we win.