Yes, members of the military do pay into the Social Security system and earn work credits during military service. SSA has a great publication about military service and work credits here: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10017.pdf.
Question: VA staff have access to veteran's VA medical record throughout local and remote data system. How do VA staff provide these records as part of the SOAR packet? What does VA require to document disclosures?
In recent years, DDS has developed the ability to quickly access VA medical records electronically, which should be triggered when you fill out the electronic application (specifically the SSA-3368 Adult Disability Report) and document that the applicant received treatment from the Veterans Health Administration. An electronically signed SSA-827 will also need to be in the file. When SSA transfers the case to DDS and it is noted that the applicant received VHA care, the system automatically sends an electronic request for records to VHA. The full process they use is here, and it's pretty interesting: https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0422505022.
For SSA, the only required release of information is the SSA-827. However, the VA may also require that the Veteran sign a form 10-5345 Request for and Authorization to Release Medical Records and Health Information.
Question: Are Veterans eligible to collect both VA and SSA benefits at the same time? If so, is there a monthly cap?
Absolutely, Veterans who receive VA disability benefits may also receive SSA benefits, depending on the amount received from the VA and if they are approved for SSI or SSDI.
SSI: VA benefits will affect the SSI benefit amount. SSA classifies VA benefits as “unearned income,” since it does not come from paid employment. As such, it will be deducted dollar for dollar from the SSI federal payment amount, after the general exclusion of $20. (All SSI recipients are eligible for this exclusion, where the first $20 of earned or unearned income is not counted against their SSI payment.)
SSDI: Alternatively, SSDI benefits are not affected by unearned income through VA benefits.
Question: What happens when a child receiving SSI reaches the age of 18?
At age 18, young adults who were eligible for SSI as children are evaluated to determine if they qualify for benefits under the adult definition of disability. This redetermination process is essential to many youth who continue to need the support of SSI.
For children, disability is determined by “marked or severe functional limitations,” whereas for adults, disability is measured against the ability to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA), an income level set annually by SSA. Due to this, an age 18 redetermination is considered a new medical decision for eligibility based on adult standards. Using SOAR, we can help youth with this redetermination process by writing a comprehensive Medical Summary Report regarding the applicant’s functioning with respect to performing substantial gainful activity and completing an SSA-1696, Appointment of Representative form.
Question: Can minors/children receive SSI, and is the money given to the legal guardian?
Yes, minors (children under age 18) can receive SSI if they meet the childhood criteria for disability. Whether or not the legal guardian receives the money depends on a few factors. Individuals under age 18 are generally presumed to be incapable of handling their own funds and would need a representative payee, so a legal guardian or other payee service would manage the funds. Children under age 15 are required to have a payee.
In some instances a child aged 15-17 may be determined as capable of handling his/her own funds if one of the following conditions exists:
The child is entitled to disability benefits based on his/her own earnings.
The child is on active duty in the armed forces
The child is living alone and self-supporting
The child is a parent and filed for his/her own or his/her child’s benefits, and has experience handling finances
The child is within 7 months of attaining age 18.
The child has demonstrated the ability to handle finances, and no qualified payee is available.
In addition, if a child is emancipated under state law, he/she is not required to have a payee, unless there are indications to the contrary. More information about determining capability in children can be found here.
Question: If a child receives SSI, how does the family's income affect his/her benefits?
"We consider your child’s income and resources when deciding if your child is eligible for SSI. We also consider the income and resources of family members living in the child’s household. These rules apply if your child lives at home. They also apply if he or she is away at school but returns home from time to time and is subject to your control.
If your child’s income and resources, or the income and resources of family members living in the child’s household, are more than the amount allowed, we will deny the child’s application for SSI payments."
Question: What is considered a medical impairment? (i.e. Global developmental Delay in a child under the age of 5?)
SSA’s definition of disability differs from a solely medical definition in that it encompasses the child’s ability to function as compared with the functional abilities of a child of the same age who does not have impairments.
According to SSA, a medically determinable physical or mental impairment is an impairment that results from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities that can be shown by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques. A physical or mental impairment must be established by objective medical evidence from an acceptable medical source.