They’ve Served Us; Let Us Serve Them

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By Ellen Zwierzynski, Social Security District Manager in Elizabeth

It’s customary to honor the men and women of the Armed Forces each Memorial Day — especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.  May also is National Military Appreciation Month, a great time to let members of the military know how much we value what they are doing for us and our country.

Serving the military is nothing new for Social Security.  People in the Armed Forces have been covered under Social Security since 1957.  Even people in the service before 1957 may receive special credit for some of their service.  People in the military are covered for the same survivors, disability and retirement benefits as everyone else who pays into Social Security.

A person’s Social Security benefit depends on earnings, averaged over a lifetime.  The same is true for members of the military.  Generally, the higher your earnings, the higher your Social Security benefit.  Under certain circumstances, special earnings can be credited to one’s military pay record for Social Security purposes.  The extra earnings are for periods of active duty or active duty for training and may help someone qualify for Social Security or increase the amount of Social Security benefits.  If you qualify for extra earnings, Social Security will add them to your earnings record when you file for benefits.

For today’s military service members who have been wounded and need to apply for disability benefits, it’s important to know that you will receive expedited processing. The expedited process is for military service members who become disabled while on active duty on or after October 1, 2001, regardless of where the disability begins.  Depending on the situation, some family members of military personnel may be able to receive benefits, including dependent children and, in some cases, spouses.  Learn more about it at www.socialsecurity.gov/woundedwarriors.  Please pay special attention to the fact sheets available on that website titled Disability Benefits for Wounded Warriors and Expediting Disability Applications for Wounded Warriors.

You’ll also find links on the Social Security Wounded Warrior page to useful VA and Medicare websites.

To learn more about Social Security for people who have served in the military, read a copy of our publication, Military Service and Social Security.  You can find it online at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10017.html, or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to ask for a free copy to be mailed to you.

The men and women of the Armed Forces serve us each and every day.  At Social Security, we’re here to serve them too.


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