Social Security and Veterans Affairs Partnership Speeds Disability Decisions for Veterans

vaSocial Security is with you throughout life’s journey. For the millions of individuals we help each day — including Veterans, widows and widowers, retirees, and people with disabilities — our priority is to help you secure today and tomorrow. In our efforts to improve the quality of service we provide to Veterans, we’re proud to announce our partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to use health IT to help Veterans and their families.

This partnership between Social Security and the VA allows for the expedited processing of disability cases. It enables us to receive medical records electronically from the VA through the eHealth Exchange.  This process saves time and money for both partners and allows Social Security to make decisions faster for Veterans and their dependents who apply for Social Security disability benefits.

Medical documentation is essential to making a disability determination. Before using this new capability, we obtained medical records through a manual process. When eligible Veterans apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, it might have taken weeks or months for Social Security to receive paper records from the VA. This new partnership lets Social Security obtain the VA Veterans’ health information electronically within minutes. Through this new national initiative, we can obtain Veterans’ medical records electronically without human intervention. It’s easy, convenient and secure, just the way we like it.

Currently, Social Security can receive electronic health records from over 50 other health IT partners and the Department of Defense in about 7,000 facilities across the United States.  Our goal is to continue expanding our network of healthcare organizations and federal agencies that provide electronic health records to us within a safe and secure environment so that we can secure today and tomorrow faster for our Veterans.

To learn more about the health IT initiative, please visit our website at


34 thoughts on “Social Security and Veterans Affairs Partnership Speeds Disability Decisions for Veterans

  1. I was send a letter,that my ssn was to cut down to 1033.00 as of Dec 2016. I was suppose to recevic a check for 128.00 as of Oct 28 2016. see nothing in the mail nor I have being called. Could you check on this matter at once for me,thank you. Ruben Garcia

    • Hi Ruben. Unfortunately, but for security reasons, we do not have access to personal records in this blog. Please call our toll-free number at: 1-800-772-1213 and speak to one of our representatives. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Or contact your local Social Security office directly.

  2. I was in the process of becoming unemployable through the VA when I applied for disability and at the time I was at 70% for conditions that kept me from working. With hundreds of pages of medical records and examinations that backed them up I was denied in October of 2015. I got a lawyer and filed the appeal immediately. April of 2016 I was designated as 90% with 100% rate due to unemployability so I can’t work, not that I was able to which is why th VA granted me this as permanent with no further examinations needed. All of this has been reported to Social Security and I know that the outcome will be in my favor because the evidence is solid and I am in need, I am just so frustrated that I was denied despite the info I started with and that I am being told my appeal won’t happen for another year at the least. I just need the stamp of approval but the time frame is making me feel helpless.

      • Thank you for your comment Beverly. You’re right, the Social Security Act sets out a strict definition of disability, much different than the requirements for other government programs including veterans benefits. Our agency pays benefits to eligible individuals who can’t work due to a disabling mental or physical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. Those who qualify based on our strict definition of disability are among the most severely disabled people in the country. No benefits are payable for partial disability or short-term disability.

        • Well I definitely have more than enough evidence to show that this is the case. Believe me I know about the differences in rating disabilities but unless MRI’s, X-rays and PTSD diagnoses are debatable issues there shouldn’t be much trouble.

        • If that is the case why is it that there are all of these kids who never worked a day in their life getting social security for having ADHD which is not disabling

    • You hit the Nail on the Head! Im suffering from Severe spinal stenoses with additional factors to include severe Degenerative Disc Disease.
      This was a condition that started in Marine Corps Infantry. During the service in the Infantry we had to carry heavyweight which did damage to our vertebrae that we all just found and we just kept going because that’s our job as Marines just to take the pain I took this pain for well over 20 plus years and finally it started to Slow Me Down but because I never complained about it in the service because I was a true Marine in Marines that pick up the fire team leader and then I was appointed to squad leader don’t have an option to go to Sick Bay so nothing ever gets documented in a marine that doesn’t complain.

      Now if I would have complained then they would have given me service-connected disability which would have rated me at least at 50% because the MRIs which I took one in 2014 in 2015 clearly shows that I have severe spinal stenosis and severe degenerative disc disease.

      I can understand why it is very frustrating when if you just look at our medical records we could have been through this and I can be starting a new career and something else because one thing I’m liking right now is the funds to get started into any kind of new training the system needs to be revised so that it clearly shows when somebody is in need of a disability compensation it should be handled properly.

      Especially when it comes from a veteran that did four years of honorable service in the front line units of an infantry unit.

      Does this not mean anything to our nation that we served honorably without incident and barely went to sickbay and now I have these disabilities and I’m being denied it sounds completely ridiculous any nation that does not trust its own honorably serve members

  3. I’m excited to hear about the seamless access to records! As a non-attorney representative, electronic access has allowed us to serve our clients with excellence! VA records have historically been difficult to obtain. Thanks SSA for finding a solution! The next step is access to the SSA client record for initial disability claims.

  4. I was granted SSDI in late 2009. My injury was one where the cervical disc in my neck were crushed in posteria and anterior. In 2015 I had a ‘Nasty Fall” and broke my right lumbar in half lengthwise.
    By the Grace of God, I wasn’t paralyzed by either injury. I’m told that I’ll be on pain pills for the rest of my life. I’ve haven’t worked since December 31, 2008. I returned to College and earned an Associates Degree in Accounting. Due to one thing and another, I haven’t had time to apply anywhere for part-time accounting. Now things are different, I have heard the Voice of God and soon I’ll be looking for that “Part-Time” job in accounting. The only thing that I can say about this is “All things are only possible in God’s time. I encourage all of those whom are going through the process a second time with and without help from the V.A. to keep on looking up..

  5. I left out one important thing. I’m a Veteran of Vietnam, if I had not served our country during a war time event, I don’t know how I would have had those incredible, non-paralyzing lengthy surgeries, and where I would be today.

  6. Decades ago, I was promised that when I reached retirement that my SSI (1973) would convert over to SSA and VA Disability Benefit Payments and that never happened. Many things over at the VA are broken and that’s the reason why many recipients and constituents have voiced their disapproval with Washington insider (s) and have voted for an outsider, Trump Administration, now when is the action going to be taken to help tens-of-thousands of military veterans who are on SSI and SSDI when they should be receiving SSA and VA as a joint package?

  7. Heartbreaking that there has been no interest in doing this for the rest. In the past, those who became disabled/seriously ill could fall back on welfare during the (very long) waiting process. Actual welfare ended 20 years ago. For real. For many low-wage workers who become unable to work, it’s over when their UI runs out and the rent comes due.

  8. Being that I am a Vietnam veteran getting 60% disability from the VA and have medical records stating that I can’t work. I’d like to know if I am qualified for additional SS?

  9. I have had a Agent Orange claim in with the VA for over 6 years. The VA has stalled and used every excuse not to honor my claim. I have supplied more than enough evidence, yo approve my claim. They still try to avoid my claim. I even have Bern told by a DOD employee, that the VA is just putting me off, waiting for me to die do they can trash my claim. I will not go away until I die, The VA id a disgrace.

    • Hi Walter. Unfortunately, but for security reasons, we do not have access to personal records in this blog. Please contact your local Social Security office. If you are unable to visit your local office, you can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213, representatives are available Monday through Friday between 7:00a.m. and 7:00p.m. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later in the day or later in the week. Thanks.

  10. I hope this helps with some of the VA malpractice. Without human intervention of the medical records, less people may die because they actually get a chance to get diagnosed.

  11. I have had a claim in for exposure to agent orange tot over six years. I have complied with every aspect that the VA requested and more. The VA hospital at Mountain Home James H. Quillen in Johnson City Tn. Did all the testing and told me that I qualify for exposure to agent orange and advised me to file a claim regarding my heart disease. I have provided. Newspaper articles. Military orders. A certified letter from my mother that I called home collect from Vietnam, my mother has now past away 3 years ago. I even was able to locate a fellow airman who wrote a buddy letter for me. As we crossed paths in Vietnam. I have produced everything that the VA requested but I still wait. I even have been before the travel review board judge that wanted my case reviewed further that was back in July of 2014. I don’t have another decade I can wait for justice to be done. Please help me regarding my claim, as I would like closure on this matter before I die. Like the saying goes “I came home from Vietnam, and I brought death with me “Agent Orange.

    n who wrote a buddy letter tot Mr as we crossed paths st Da Many sir base

  12. Sorry for the typo ‘s main ones it was DaNang air base. My keyboard seems to have a mind of its own. If you all would do the research you will see that agent orange was used to Spray the DMZ during the Korean War. Sprayed several bases in the United States. And sprayed Guam also during the Vietnam War. So I provided proof I was in Guam 1965-also in Vietnam in Spring &summer of 1965. And even transported agent orange from the US to Guam where it was stored. There is also proof of the storage on Guam via a special investigation conducted by DOD. The storage on Guam contaminated the water supply for Guam. I even supplied photos while in Vietnam and tracked down a fellow airman that is buried in Odessa. Texas with a headstone that plainly says Vietnam. Check my file it is all there. Like I said I know where I was and I would like closure on this matter before I die. I wish the medical side of the VA would talk with the admin. Side as the medical side is the ones that conducted all the test and told me to file a claim for exposure to agent orange.

  13. Help us get treated better at all VA hospitals. You get treated so badly by the police/ security officers that works for the VA Hospital in Atlanta/ Decatur, GA the headquarters there. Instead of listening to you when you have been harassed they tired to throw their power of being a police officer/security around. Talk to you like you 3 yrs old. How can they treat a person like that , when you have served to protect your country. We are not dogs we are human beings/people who gave our lives for our country. There is no good system there you wait in long lines for hours and paper work after paper work gets put off for months. When will all of this change or is it. Please clean up the system and make it better for all Vets every where.

    • Thank you for your question Belinda. If you are the divorced spouse of a worker who dies, you could get benefits just the same as a widow or widower, provided that your marriage lasted 10 years or more. See “If You’re the Worker’s Surviving Divorced Spouse” for more information. If you have specific questions, you can call our toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Representatives are available between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, but you will generally have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week. Hope this helps!

  14. I need to apply for Disability and I can’t remember my info already given. I am retired and was in the USCG and are a veteran.

    • Hi William. We may ask you to complete forms, provide documents and medical information to apply for Disability Benefits. You should not delay applying just because you do not have certain documents or lack medical reports. We will help you get them. If you think you are disabled, you can apply for disability online. Please remember that Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or short-term disability. Disability benefits are paid to people who are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or to end in death. Please call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday if you need further assistance. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week. Thanks!

  15. With the Electronic access to VA medical records, why am I being told my SSDI claim is on hold pending receipt of medical records from the VA? It seems that the state DDS office does not have this access as proclaimed in the press release.

    • One thing you CAN DO NOW is DOWNLOAD and PRINT your VA Medical Record. Then with your Medical Record IN HAND, give it to the SAME SSA Rep that is taking your Disability Application! That way NO MIDDLEMAN OR EXCUSES from SSA!!

  16. I have a non connected service VA pension, I Am a 66 year old man this is my only income and I am thankful. I had appointment today with the DAV and the officer mention the poverty income level is about $1800.00 dollars per month.
    Am I eligible for social security with my VA pension to meet the poverty level income? I receive $1075.00 per month as a single vet. Thank you in advance for any counseling on this subject.

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