Social Security Disability

If you become disabled on or after October 1, 2001, while on active duty, regardless of where the disability occurs, you are eligible for expedited processing of disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Social Security benefits are different from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and necessitate a separate application. Being on active duty or receiving military pay does not prevent you from receiving Social Security disability benefits. If you are getting treatment from a Military Treatment Facility (MTF) and are working in a designated therapy program or are on limited duty, the SSA will evaluate your work activity to determine your eligibility for benefits. The actual work activity is the controlling factor, not the amount of pay you receive or your military status.

Service members can apply for disability benefits while in the military or after discharge.  This also applies if you are still hospitalized, in a rehabilitation program, or undergoing out-patient treatment in a military or civilian medical facility.  To apply online, via phone, or in-person:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Social Security’s definition of disability?

You must be unable to do substantial work because of your medical condition(s) and your medical conditions(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least one year or result in death. Social Security does not give money to people with partial disability or short-term disability.

What information do I need to apply?

The following documents and/or information are required; however, you should not wait until you have all the documents, but file your application as soon as possible:

  • Original or certified copy of your birth certificate or proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency if foreign born
  • DD 214, if discharged from the military
  • W-2 form or income tax return from last year
  • Social Security numbers of your spouse and minor children
  • Checking or savings account number
  • Name, address and phone number of a contact person, in case you are unavailable
  • Medical records that you have or that you can obtain from all military and civilian sources

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