The SSA’s “expedited” process for disability claims related to military duty has virtually no impact on the speed of initial eligibility decisions, an IG audit has found, although appeals of those decisions are decided substantially faster.
The SSA gives priority to what it calls “military casualty/wounded warrior” and “veteran 100 percent permanent and total” disability claims from current and former military service members. The SSA has no specific procedures related to such claims, though, and has its employees use the same expedited procedures for claimants with terminal illnesses.
However, military service-related claims are more complex and therefore it “it generally takes longer to develop and assess” them, the report said, adding that “there were processing delays attributable to SSA as well as delays outside SSA’s control.” The former category included a lack of internal controls to flag and process the military-related claims and a lack of timeliness goals; the latter included delays by the VA in providing medical records needed to assess a claim.
The result was that at the initial level, SSA processed such claims only one day faster than it processed all disability claims (111 vs. 112 days on average in 2017). However, the military-related cases were processed more quickly at the reconsideration (69 vs. 106 days), hearing office (228 vs. 543), and Appeals Council (77 vs. 372) levels.