Wounded, ill and injured Service members could be eligible for Social Security benefits

Watch the SSA’s “Social Security for Wounded Warriors Webinar” or read “Disability Benefits for Wounded Warriors” for detailed explanations of eligibility and how to file an application.

Watch the SSA’s “Social Security for Wounded Warriors Webinar” or read “Disability Benefits for Wounded Warriors” for detailed explanations of eligibility and how to file an application.

Wounded, ill and injured Service members and their families may have misconceptions about their eligibility for Social Security benefits, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA). For instance, you do not necessarily have to be in your sixties to receive Social Security benefits.

“There are three important points you need to know about Social Security benefits for Service members,” said Chris Greco, SSA Executive Program Director, during a SSA webinar for wounded warriors. “First, you have earned it. Second, don’t wait to file. And finally, we can help.”

Wounded, ill and injured Service members may be eligible for Social Security benefits if they meet the SSA’s definition of being found disabled:

  • Unable to do substantial work because of medical condition(s); and
  • Medical condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least one year or to result in death.

SSA does not pay money for partial disabilities or short-term disabilities. If a Service member is considered disabled by SSA, he/she may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits through programs such as:

Another misconception about Social Security is that wounded, ill and injured Service members cannot receive Social Security benefits while receiving military pay. This is not the case. If a Service member is receiving treatment at a military medical facility and working in a designated therapy program or on limited duty, SSA will evaluate work activity to determine eligibility for benefits. Service members cannot receive Social Security disability benefits if they engage in substantial work for pay or profit. However, the actual work activity is the main factor and not the amount of pay received or military duty status.

Benefits available through SSA are different than those from the Department of Veterans Affairs and require a separate application. A wounded, ill or injured Service member should file the application for disability benefits as soon as possible with any documents readily available. Information and documentation about age, employment, proof of citizenship, and information regarding all impairments and related treatment will also be needed, but do not delay in filing if you do not have all the documents.

“This money became essential for me and my survival since I left the military and while I was in the military,” said retired Staff Sgt. Robert Bartlett, during a SSA webinar for wounded warriors. “Apply as soon as possible and don’t forget to spread the word [to other wounded warriors].”

According to the SSA publication “Disability Benefits for Wounded Warriors,” Service members may apply for disability benefits at any time while in military status or after discharge, whether still hospitalized, in a rehabilitation program, or undergoing out-patient treatment in a military or civilian medical facility. Service members—who become disabled while on active military service on or after October 1, 2001, regardless of where the disability occurs—can receive expedited processing of disability claims from SSA. To find out how to apply, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/woundedwarriors for the online application, visit or contact the nearest Social Security office, or call 1-800-772-1213 to schedule an appointment.

Watch the SSA’s “Social Security for Wounded Warriors Webinar” or read “Disability Benefits for Wounded Warriors” for detailed explanations of eligibility and how to file an application. Also check out a quick reference summary of Social Security benefits in the DoD Compensation and Benefits Handbook for Wounded, Ill and Injured Service members.