U.S. Representatives Glenn "GT' Thompson (R-PA) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA) have introduced H.R. 6445, the Recovering Service Members Disability Benefits Act, legislation to exempt disabled service members from the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) 5-month benefit waiting period. H.R. 6445 was introduced with the support of military and veteran support groups including the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), and the National Guard Association (NGAUS).
"We must offer the brave men and women, who have put the welfare of the Nation and their comrades before their own, the best possible support upon their return from war," said Rep. Thompson. "The Recovering Service Members Disability Benefits Act will exempt service members, who are injured in a combat zone and have qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, from the program's 5-month waiting period, which will go a long way in helping our wounded warriors and their families become whole again, without bureaucratic delay or undue financial distress."
"Our service members who have been wounded defending our country should not have to wait for benefits or face financial hardship. They should be able to focus on their recovery, not delays in their benefits," said Rep. Loebsack. "This bill will help our wounded service members and their families and honors the sacrifices they have made for our country. We owe it to those who have put their lives on the line protecting our freedoms to ensure that they are able to quickly access the benefits they need."
Currently, when service members are wounded in combat and sent back to the United States to recover, some are unable to keep their current job in their respective military branch or find alternative employment due to their injuries. While disabled service members are eligible to apply for SSDI, the program mandates a 5-month waiting period before any benefits can be provided.
H.R. 6445 amends title II of the Social Security Act to provide that the waiting period for disability insurance benefits shall not be applicable in the case of a disabled service member recovering from an injury or illness incurred in a combat zone.
The Recovering Service Members Disability Benefits Act does not expand eligibility for SSDI benefits or automatically approve individual requests, and all of the same protections used to prevent fraud and abuse of the program remain as defined under current law.