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New system speeds veterans' disability submissions

As Pennsylvania residents know, Social Security disability paperwork is often grueling, complicated and inconvenient. This isn't just a problem for individuals who may be unable to work because of an injury or illness. Our nation's war heroes are also suffering because of the labyrinthine process required to obtain disability money after returning from combat. A new system should ease the process for these Wounded Warriors, allowing them to receive Social Security disability payments faster and with less hassle.

The federal government has taken its first step toward integrating medical information technology sharing through health information technology. In a move that will help thousands of American veterans, two major agencies have developed a new partnership to administer an electronic disability claims service. The collaboration between the Social Security Administration and the Department of Defense will be available to service members, veterans and their dependents.

The new nationwide initiative will allow disability processing facilities to access military medical records from a single request to a centralized Web site. The processing capabilities will allow for better communication between the Social Security Administration's Electronic Records Express and DoD medical records. It is likely to significantly improve the efficiency of processing disability claims. States will be able to receive medical information in as little as 72 hours, according to Social Security Administration officials.

The site was started up early this month, and it will continue to work toward expansion throughout the entire country in the upcoming weeks.

Administrators say that Wounded Warriors and other disabled service members will benefit from the program because they will not have to visit the doctor as often to obtain results from consultative examinations. That is, fewer medical exams will be requested by Social Security officials who need additional tests or medical records.

In addition, military members can expect that their claims will be processed faster because of faster medical records delivery from the DoD to the Social Security Administration. Overall, the system should improve the quality and speed with which our nation's veterans receive their disability payments.

Source: ExecutiveGov, "SSA, Pentagon aiming to centralize electronic disability claims process," Gino Troaiani, May 1, 2012.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Social Security and Department of Defense implement new process to improve efficiency for Wounded Warriors applying for disability benefits," Press Office, April 30, 2012.

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