Disabled Vets, Social Security and The Disconnect
In 2007, Social Security launched the "Wounded Warriors" program, an outreach effort for service members returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress recently asked the Government Accountability Office ("GAO") to assess the program, and measure its success.
VA data, the report explains, shows that out of 200,000 potentially eligible Vets, only 10,000 have applied for Social Security disability. Another fact: 92% of fully disabled Vets receive VA disability only. There are many possible reasons cited for this disparity.
The Department of Defense estimates there are about 34,000 wounded Veterans potentially eligible for benefits, but VA numbers the GAO reviewed estimate 500,000 Veterans. One out of every three suffers from a mental or cognitive based problem, which may explain troubles navigating through Social Security's phone system, and its forms. This makes even more sense when comparing the percentage of Vets suffering mental impairments compared to civilians seeking disability benefits. According to the report, 60% of disabled Vets suffer from mental or cognitive disabilities, whereas 23% of the civilian population include those with mental issues.