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SSA Disability and the Department of Defense Working Together

Posted on Jul 08, 2012

The Social Security disability program and the Department of Defense have teamed up to help military service members, veterans, and their families by improving the efficiency in applying for disability benefits.


According to an April 2012 Social Security Administration press release, a nationwide project is making it possible for SSA disability processing sites to receive Department of Defense medical records after one request to one DoD site. 


Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, explains: “Receiving electronic medical records for our Wounded Warriors and other military personnel will significantly shorten the time it takes to make a disability decision. This new process will improve the speed, accuracy, and efficiency of the disability program.”


The new process involves consolidating medical records requests from Social Security to a single, central electronic database. There are several benefits of this method:

  • Medical records move much faster from the DoD to Social Security.
  • The system itself is much more efficient.
  • It takes less time to make a decision on a disability claim.
  • It takes less time and fewer SSA-requested medical exams to make a decision.


The program began in only five states: Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon, Virginia and Washington. All five states now receive the requested medical records within 72 hours. In the past, it took and average of five weeks just to receive the records. From that point, the approval process was really just getting started and our service men and women were waiting too long to get the help they needed.


Now, as the project goes nationwide, it comes that much closer to realizing the final goal of improved medical information sharing through health information technology.

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John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law