As military veterans, you have devoted a substantial part of your life to the service of our country. It is essential to understand the various support structures in place to assist you, particularly if you find yourself dealing with a disabling condition. Among these supports is the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a federal benefit program administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
The SSA offers SSDI benefits to individuals who meet certain qualifying criteria, with military service not being a prerequisite. This is a distinguishing feature from programs such as those offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, where eligibility is often contingent on the injury or disability having occurred during active duty.
In the case of SSDI, eligibility hinges upon two critical components: the nature of the disability and a demonstrated history of work. It is essential to understand that any applicant, whether they have a military background or not, needs to establish that their disability is within the SSA’s coverage.
Additionally, the SSA requires applicants to demonstrate a substantial work history – typically a decade of full-time employment. Fortunately, this is where your military service can be advantageous. Time served as an active-duty military personnel is deemed ‘gainful employment’ by the SSA. Hence, any duration spent on active duty could potentially contribute towards your SSDI benefit determination.
The SSA measures gainful employment via a system of credits, where a credit represents three months of full-time employment. To qualify for SSDI benefits, an applicant must accrue forty credits, with at least half of these (twenty credits) being earned within the last decade. Given that active military service counts as full-time employment, former military personnel may find themselves well-positioned to meet these criteria.
We understand that navigating these benefits can be challenging, and you may have further questions relating to your military status and the types of assistance available to you. At Viner Disability Law, we’re here to support and guide you through this process. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for further information or to discuss your individual circumstances.