Qualifying for Social Security and VA Disability

Jul 17, 2017

Did you know that VA Disability benefits and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the primary form of disability benefits, do not affect one another? Veterans who were wounded on active duty can often qualify for both government-run programs at the same time. If you’re on VA disability and are in need of additional assistance, here is some additional information you may want to know about Social Security disability benefits:

1. You Need to be Completely Unable to Work to Qualify for SSDI

SSDI benefits are only for people who have an injury severe enough to prevent them from earning $1,170 per month in 2017. This is radically different from VA disability—You can receive benefits for a 10% disability rating from the VA. If you’re able to work part-time with your disability, it’s unlikely that you’ll qualify for Social Security benefits on top of your VA disability.

2. Your VA Disability Approval Will Help Your SSDI Claim, but not Vice-Versa

A high disability rating from the VA will go a long way in getting your Social Security claim approved. In fact, veterans with a 100% P&T disability rating will have their claims expedited. If your disability rating is around 70% or higher, you’ll have an excellent chance of approval. The Social Security Administration (SSA) takes the VA’s disability approval as evidence supporting your claim.

On the other hand, already receiving Social Security disability benefits will not help a VA disability claim. This is because while it doesn’t matter when you were injured for Social Security benefits, the VA requires that you were hurt on active duty to qualify for VA disability.

3. Speak to Your Doctor When Applying for SSDI Benefits

Just as the SSA sees the Veteran’s Administration as a reliable source for your claim, your primary physician’s opinion will help you win your SSDI claim. The SSA gives your doctor’s opinion preference when evaluating your claim. This is not the case for the VA, so be sure to speak with your doctor to get as much medical evidence as possible, and even a letter of recommendation for SSDI benefits if possible.

4. You Have a Time Limit to Apply for SSDI

VA disability has no statute of limitations, but if you have not worked recently, you may not qualify for SSDI benefits. A good rule of thumb is if you’ve worked at least part-time for any five of the past ten years, you will qualify for SSDI benefits. Younger applicants will not need to have worked as long. For example, if a 22-year-old veteran was wounded in the line of duty, he will have only been expected to have earned about $8,000 in taxable income since age 18 to qualify.

Because time is limited, it’s important to apply for SSDI benefits as soon as you think you might qualify. Most applicants can complete the entire SSDI application online on the SSA’s website. If you’d prefer, you can also apply in person at your local SSA office. You can schedule an appointment to apply by calling the SSA at 1-800-772-1213.

Finally, veterans with a 100% P&T disability rating will not be the only ones eligible for expedited claims. If you were injured on active duty on or after October 2, 2002, your claim will be expedited as well. The average claim takes 3-5 months to be approved, but veterans who qualify for hastened review could be approved in as little as 10 days.

This article was written and researched by the Outreach Team at Disability Benefits Help. They provide information about disability benefits and the application process. To learn more, please visit their website at http://www.disability-benefits-help.org or by contacting them at help@ssd-help.org. The information and views contained in this article are from a third party and are not endorsed by The Home Front Cares. 

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2017 Veterans Cup, another Monumental Year

Jun 19, 2017

Extraordinary Day at Sanctuary Supporting Veterans

The Home Front Cares' 2017 Veterans Cup, which took place on May 31st, resulted in another successful year with great weather, an amazing setting and a generous amount of money raised to support Colorado military and veteran families. HuHot was the title sponsor of the event and local franchise owner, Jay Warwick - in a moving moment of gratitude - raised his glass in deep appreciation of our veterans and their families that evening during dinner, echoing the sentiments of all who golfed that day. Not only did the day's participants come out to play one of the best golf courses in Colorado (and many would say the entire U.S.), but they came out to support those who have sacrificed much, and who are now struggling. 

The Home Front Cares (THFC) provides direct financial support for military and veteran families for basic life necessities. THFC helps prevent homelessness, utility disconnects and loss of crucial transportation for veteran families. The organization keeps the lights on and keep the car running so that families can continue working and going to school and get back on track.

Golfers at the Veterans Cup enjoyed a beautiful day of golf and gave back to provides homes and basic necessities for these families. The Home Front Cares is extremely grateful for the continued generosity of its donors. On behalf of Colorado military and veteran families, thank you.

Photos coming soon!

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Military Exchanges Plan to Offer Online Access to Veterans by 11 November 2017

Mar 16, 2017

Department of Defense officials notified the congressional oversight committees January 11th of their intent to open up the military exchange online shopping benefit to all honorably discharged veterans. On January 18th, a memorandum went out with guidance for the military departments to implement the program by November 11th. 

The new shopping privileges will apply only to online shopping, not to brick-and-mortar stores. Newly eligible veterans -- DoD estimates there are 15 million of them -- wouldn't be able to buy uniforms, alcohol or tobacco products. 

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), and Navy Exchange Service Command, or (NEXCOM), have online shopping websites, but authorized shoppers can buy from either site, regardless of branch of service. 

HOW IT WILL WORK - As they do with other authorized customers, the exchanges will use data provided by the Defense Manpower Data Center to verify veteran eligibility for online shopping privileges. Veterans whose records are incomplete or don't appear in the Veterans Affairs Department database will need to register through the VA.  The exchange services will provide registration information on their online sites, and the AAFES call center will help veterans navigate the process.

Veterans with honorable discharges will be authorized to shop online at any of the military exchange sites regardless of service branch, but they won't be able to receive a DoD identification card through the program, or gain access to DoD installations and other DoD property where exchanges are located.  There are no plans to extend the benefit to these veterans' dependents because it would be cost prohibitive to collect and track these individuals in the database used for verification of eligibility.  

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Interview With A Case Manager

Dec 14, 2016

Back in 2009 The Home Front Cares expanded our services to the entire state, increasing the number of clients our case managers help on a daily basis. Here is an interview with one of our case managers about her work, cases, and opinions about THFC! 

1) What was the best case you ever worked? 

Best case was helping a Vietnam Veteran living in the mountains on a very low, fixed budget.  We were able to get his utilities turned back on.  He spent a lot of time in the hospital and his heat needed to stay on for his dog.  Usually, he uses a wood burning stove and has a very low utility bill.

2) What was the worst case you ever worked? 

There is no "worst" case.  It is hard to say no to people. We can't help every Veteran that is in a financial crisis - that is the hardest part of the job

3) As a military spouse, what do you feel is the biggest problem our transitioning military faces? 

Enlisted soldiers are used to having their hands held.  They live on post and their rent and utilities are automatically paid so the money they have left is their 'fun' money.  Also, it is tough to work with Veterans that feel they are entitled to every benefit out there and don't understand that every organization has limitations.

4) Please describe what a typical work day looks like for you. 

A typical workday includes listening to the messages left on the Help Line at least twice and returning all of those calls.  Anywhere from 3 to 15 calls daily.  Depending on our caseload I speak with referring agents, landlords, utility companies, car repair shops and of course Clients  I would love to say I have a set schedule but I react to the fires that come up.

5) What is your favorite thing about THFC? 

Favorite thing?  Flexibility and direct contact with the Veterans.  We are making a direct impact on their lives.

6) If THFC did not exist, what do you think would happen to our community? 

Without THFC our community would be missing that financial bridge that we can supply.  There are other organizations, however, they take weeks if not months to grant financial help.  Our ability to respond quickly is unique.

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Thanksgiving and #GivingTuesday

Nov 28, 2016

Here at The Home Front Cares we have a lot to be thankful for this Holiday season. We wanted to identify the people we are most thankful for: 

Our Partner Agencies
The Home Front Cares does not provide employment, or mental or physical health services. We are a niche agency that fufills a special need our community. With the help of our partner agencies we are able to connect our clients with the organizations that can provide these vital services. It does take an entire village, or community, to provide holistic care to our veterans and our partners fill in where THFC cannot. We work with over 40 agencies, including other nonprofits, veteran organizations, and government offices. 

Our Generous Donors 
We could not help our clients without the funding from our generous donors. The Home Front Cares does not recieve federal funding, and relays solely on donations and grants. We are fortunate that so many individual donors and corporations believe in our mission and veterans. Many give direct contributions or coordinate fundraisers benefiting THFC. 

Our Veterans  
Our founders Bob Carlone and Joe Henjum understood how difficult being a soldier is, how hard deployment can be on families. They knew that veterans need help beyond their military service, and created The Home Front Cares as a means to help families. Without our military, we would not have the freedoms we enjoy. 

Today is #GivingTuesday, where you can make a difference in a veteran's life. The Home Front Cares is once again part of many important giving campagins, and ask that you include us in your holiday giving. There are many ways to give: Indy Give, through Empty Stocking Fund, via our Colorado Gives page, or our own website The Home Front Cares

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Thank you

Nov 11, 2016

To Our Veterans and Veteran Supporters,

At The Home Front Cares every day is Veteran’s Day. Every day our program staff and office manager are talking with clients, providing resource coordination, and cutting checks directly to creditors. Every day there are new stories about the challenges our veterans face that others cannot imagine: from benefit checks getting mailed to other countries and years of counseling for PTSD, to dishonest landlords taking advantage of potential renters.

Our Veterans volunteered their lives to protect us and to provide a Nation we can be proud of.  Here is our appreciation for your service:

Thank you to the World War I and II veterans
Thank you to the Korean and Vietnam war veterans
Thank you to the Gulf war veterans
Thank you to all those who struggled during and immediately after 9/11
Thank you to the veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars
Thank you to all our current active duty military who will one day be veterans
Thank you for fighting, voluntarily, in all wars
Thank you to all veterans

Just as important to thank on this day, are the people who support our veterans. At any time in our lives we can proudly say that we have at least met someone in the military. Many of us have the privilege to be directly affected by knowing a service member. Those of us related to or who choose to be related to service members experience their hardships first hand.

Thank you to the wives and husbands
Thank you to the parents and siblings
Thank you to the friends and fellow military
Thank you to the admirers and believers
Thank you to the current and future military children 

These are the people who stand by our veterans during both good times and bad, and being that support is never easy. 

We cannot thank each and every person enough just on one day, so let's make every day Veteran's Day. 

Sincerely, 

The Home Front Cares 

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Colorado Springs Selected As A 2016 Best Place for Vets to Live!

Sep 30, 2016

Recently Military Times published the results of their annual survey and assessment of best places for veterans to live.  Within the large city category (cities with a population above 200,000) Colorado Springs came in third, just behind San Diego, CA and Virginia Beach, VA.

Making the assessment, Military Times considered:

Economic factors, such as unemployment rates and housing costs.
The presence of military and veteran culture and services, such as the size of the veteran population and nearby Veterans Affairs Department medical facilities.
Livability measures, such as area health outcomes, schools and traffic.

A total of 581 places, as designated by the U.S. Census Bureau, were considered, but only 125 made the cut:

The top 25 among 76 large cities with populations of 200,000 or more.
The top 50 among 240 medium-sized cities with populations of 75,000 to 199,999.
The top 50 among 265 small cities with populations of fewer than 75,000.

For anyone interested in viewing the article and a complete listing of all cities in the three categories, click here

Written by Don Fulop, THFC Volunteer 

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Client Spotlight: Julio F.

Sep 18, 2016

The Home Front Cares clients are veterans from all branches, all wars, and all situations: often they just need a little bit of help. THFC exists to prevent our clients from becoming homeless, losing their utilities and cars, and in doing so we provide hope for a better future. 

To help our loyal donors, supporters and those new to THFC to learn more about our clients, here is the first of many Client Spotlights.  

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Julio F is a 100% service connected Veteran with a wife and two young children. He was inbetween when his 

separation pay ended and his VA disablity benefits began. All he needed was help with his morgage and utilities for September. 

When clients come into the office they are greeted by our office manager and the case manager they worked with or our Program manager. In Julio's case, he was greeted by both our Program manager and brand new case manager. For her, Julio was her first client to ever come into the office, so it was a learning experience for both case manager and client. 

Julio was instantly making everyone laugh and smile. He continued to thank our whole office for helping him, and was extremely excited to recieve a gift card and thank you note from our Community Got Your Six program. 

When the Development staff asked him for a testimonial, his reply recieved many more laughs and smiles.  "Do you want it in English, Spanish, Spanglish or all

 three?" HIs humble, but infectiously positive attitude about his situation left everyone at THFC office feeling light and accomplished. 

"Thanks to The Home Front Cares that my family and I are able to pay our mortgage and utilities. This company is there to help our veterans in need while transitioning to civilian. Thank you so much to The Home Front Cares. Love everything you do for us veterans."

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Even though Julio was in a tight spot, he still was able to laugh and make our staff laugh as well. Our veterans are resiliant people, but without our help they might not be able to get back on their feet. 

Your donations to The Home Front Cares provide more then just stable housing or turning the utilities on. You are supporting a veteran with the opportunity to continue providing for their family, or finishing their education. These intangible benefits are worth as much to our service members as money. 

To help us support more veterans like Julio, please vist out donate page and find out how you can make a difference.

 

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Nation-Wide Job Fairs September 2016

Aug 30, 2016

Searching for employment? Check out these upcoming job fairs for service members, veterans and military spouses! Our volunteer, Don Fulop, has even included website for convenience. If you know anyone who can use this information, please pass it on.

Northeast

Rochester, N.Y.
Rochester Hiring Fair, 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sept. 22, National Guard Armory, hiringourheroes.org

Newport, R.I.
Newport Military Spouse Workshop, 6-8 p.m. Sept. 22, Naval Station Newport Recreation Center, hiringourheroes.org

Philadelphia
Philadelphia Hiring Fair, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sept. 26, Union League of Philadelphia, hiringourheroes.org

South

Quantico, Va.
Quantico Transition Summit, Sept. 7-8, The Clubs at Quantico and Crossroads Events Center, hiringourheroes.org

Pentagon City, Va.
Mojo Career Event, Sept. 8-9, Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, militarymojo.org

Dallas
South Central Regional Hiring Conference, Sept. 11-12, register online, orioninternational.com
BMI ConferenceHire, Sept. 26, register online, bradley-morris.com

Raleigh, N.C
Southeast Regional Hiring Conference, Sept. 12-13, register online, orioninternational.com

Huntsville, Ala.
Military Job Fair, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 14, Holiday Inn Research Park, civilianjobs.com

Linthicum Heights, Md.
CI or FS Polygraph Only Cleared Job Fair, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 15, Linthicum, Md., clearedjobs.net

TechExpo Top Secret Hiring Event, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 22, BWI Marriott, security clearance required, techexpousa.com

McLean, Va.
TechExpo Top Secret Hiring Event, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 15, Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner, security clearance required, techexpousa.com

Springfield, Va.
Military Friendly Job Fair, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Sept. 15, Waterford at Springfield, corporategray.com

Pinellas Park, Fla.
Tampa Hiring Fair, 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sept. 16, C.W. “Bill” Young Armed Forces Reserve Center, hiringourheroes.org

Arlington, Texas
Arlington Hiring Expo with Texas Rangers, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 16, Globe Life Park, hiringourheroes.org

Houston
South Central Regional Hiring Conference, Sept. 18-19, register online, orioninternational.com

Norfolk, Va.
Military Hiring Conference, Sept. 12-13, register online, lucasgroup.com
BMI ConferenceHire, Sept. 19, register online, bradley-morris.com
Northeast Regional Hiring Conference, Sept. 25-26, register online, orioninternational.com

Fort Bliss, Texas
Military Job Fair, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 21, The Centennial Conference Center, civilianjobs.com

Dahlgren, Va.
Dahlgren Job Fair at University of Mary Washington-Dahlgren Campus, 3-7 p.m. Sept. 22, University Hall Room 11, jobzoneonline.com

Reston, Va.
Reston Job Fair, 3-7 p.m. Sept. 27, Bechtel Conference Center, jobzoneonline.com

Midwest

Minneapolis
Twin Cities Medal of Honor Convention Hiring Expo with Minnesota Twins, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 1, Target Field, hiringourheroes.org

Chicago
Military Hiring Conference, Sept. 30, register online, lucasgroup.com

West

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.
NCOA Career Expo, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Sept. 7, Club Ironwood, ncoacareerexpos.org

Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.
NCOA Career Expo, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Sept. 8, Club Five Six, ncoacareerexpos.org

San Diego
BMI ConferenceHire, Sept. 12, register online, bradley-morris.com
Military Hiring Conference, Sept. 23, register online, lucasgroup.com

Fort Carson, Colo.
Fort Carson Transition Summit, Sept, 13-14, hiringourheroes.org

Portland, Ore.
Northwestern Regional Hiring Conference, Sept. 15-16, register online, orioninternational.com

Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
Nellis Air Force Base Military Spouse Hiring Fair, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Sept. 22, The Club, hiringourheroes.org

Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Military Job Fair, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 27, Pacific Views, civilianjobs.com
Camp Pendleton Transition Summit, Sept. 28-29, Pacific Views, hiringourheroes.org

Las Vegas
Military Job Fair, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 29, Cannery Casino & Hotel, civilianjobs.com

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
Warriors to the Workforce, Sept. 29, American Lake Conference Center, hiregi.org

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Spotlight on Active Soldiers, Veterans, and Suicide: A Guide for Concerned Loved Ones Part 2

Jul 28, 2016

Here is Part II of our guest article by Jennifer McGregor on suicide 

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Be aware of the warning signs of addiction and suicide 

Concerned loved ones can best help their military members when they are aware of the warning signs of addiction and suicide. It is important to note that many veterans will not ask for help or admit to their addiction or suicidal thoughts because they perceive those as weaknesses. They often also feel too ashamed to admit that they have a problem and need help.

Warning signs of substance abuse or addiction 
Veterans and active-duty military personnel may exhibit physical or behavioral symptoms of substance abuse or addiction that include, but are not limited to:

  • Needing to take more prescribed medication than normal
  • Bloodshot or glazed eyes
  • Dilated or pinpoint pupils
  • Abrupt changes in weight
  • Bruises, infections, or other physical signs of drug injection sites
  • Changes in personality
  • Increased aggression or irritability
  • Changes in attitude
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Sudden changes in friends
  • Dramatic changes in habits and/or priorities
  • Financial challenges
  • Involvement in criminal activity

Warning signs of suicide 

  • Hopelessness or talking about how there is no way out
  • Anxiety, agitation, sleeplessness, or mood swings
  • Feeling as though there is no reason to live
  • Rage or anger
  • Participating in risky activities without thinking
  • Increased alcohol or drug abuse
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Talking about death, dying, or suicide
  • Self-destructive behavior that involves drugs, alcohol, weapons, etc.

Where to turn for help

The MilitaryTimes reports that the Department of Defense has increased its suicide prevention and awareness campaigns to turn the tide in the suicide rate among active-duty military personnel and veterans. The DoD Suicide Prevention Office was established to raise suicide awareness and drive prevention efforts for the department and individual services.

Suicide prevention training is mandatory in all five branches of the military, including the Coast Guard. The DoD Suicide Prevention Office offers online resources for family and friends of military personnel who are concerned they may be having suicidal thoughts. And, the Veterans Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-273-8255, via online chat, or text message. They also offer online resources such as links to warning signs and suicide and crisis resources.

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Thank you to Jennifer for taking the time of of her busy schedule to help THFC! 

Jennifer McGregor has wanted to be a doctor since she was little. Now, as a pre-med student, she’s well on her way to achieving that dream. She helped create PublicHealthLibrary.org with a friend as part of a class project. With it, she hopes to provide access to trustworthy health and medical resources. When Jennifer isn’t working on the site, you can usually find her hitting the books in the campus library or spending some downtime with her dog at the local park.

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