tampabay.com

Benefits expedited for military

By Times Staff Writer
Published October 19, 2007


The U.S. Social Security Administration last week announced an expedited system to provide survivors' and disability benefits to active-duty personnel and their families.

The agency, with a Carrollwood office at 4010 Gunn Highway, Suite 100, will take applications in person or by telephone at 1-800-772-1213. Either way, officials say a specially dedicated claims-taking unit will give the application priority handling.

The agency's goal is to schedule an appointment within three working days of the initial telephone call, or have the local office call the service member within two days to start the disability process. Disability claims filed online at www.socialsecurity.gov also are expedited. There is a special link for Wounded Warriors.

Once the application for Social Security disability benefits is received, it is uniquely identified as a military service member claim and rushed through all phases of processing, both in Social Security and the state Disability Determination Service, where the medical decision is made.

This direct and immediate assistance applies to military service members who become disabled in the line of duty on or after Oct. 1, 2001. The expedited process is invoked regardless of where the disability occurred, whether in the United States, Iraq, Afghanistan, or on other foreign soil during active military service.