Wounded veterans can get faster expedited processing of their Social Security disability benefit cases (Disability Insurance – DIB, and supplemental security income – SSI) under the Wounded Warrior program.
Note: Social Security disability benefits may be in addition to any benefits paid by the VA.
To have the case flagged under this program (and receive critical case / dire need expedited processing) apply online through www.socialsecurity.gov/woundedwarriors, or at your local Social Security office.
After reading the online material, a question I had was whether expedited processing applies through the hearing level (if the case is denied) or only in the initial disability determination process. The initial application process is the short part of a disability claim taking about 4 to 6 months for a decision. On expedited cases, the initial decision is reached in about 2 months based on the cases I have seen. However, at the appeal stage, it can take 12 to 14 months (or longer) for a case to be scheduled with an Administrative Law Judge. If the expedited process only applied to the initial decision, it would not help veterans very much.
I contacted my local ODAR (Office of Disability Adjudication and Review) appeals office. I was informed the expedited process applies through the hearing level as well and that the cases continue to be flagged as expedited.
However, to be on the safe side, it is a good idea to add a cover letter to the appeal specifically requesting expedited processing under the Wounded Warrior program.