Association's Comments Used in Servicemember Benefits Tool

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has incorporated NASW comments into its review of efforts by the Social Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense to inform wounded servicemembers of Social Security disability benefits.

The GAO asked NASW to comment on a tool it had developed to evaluate the efforts of the DoD, VA and SSA to notify military personnel and veterans of disability benefits. The tool outlines a set of key practices that contribute to successful outreach campaigns.

These practices include:

  • Outlining strategic goals for the campaign of a desired response.
  • Identifying and researching the target audience to understand its key characteristics.
  • Establishing strategic partnerships with other entities that help with the outreach campaign.
  • Targeting the outreach message.
  • Reinforcing the message.
  • Developing and implementing measures for evaluating the effectiveness of the outreach campaign.

In reviewing the document, NASW suggested that the GAO incorporate examples of existing strategic partnerships that were relevant to current or retired service members, said Chris Herman, senior practice associate at NASW.

The revised document suggests that a federal agency operate a toll-free hotline, distribute brochures and handouts and conduct individual and group briefings to help ensure that mobilized Reserve members are aware of their rights and responsibilities regarding their post-deployment employment.

GAO analyst Joy Myers sent a message to NASW in August, thanking the association for its contribution.

"We incorporated your comments as appropriate and will use the list to help inform our review of (SSA, VA and DoD) efforts to inform wounded warriors of Social Security benefits," she said.

Myers added that NASW's contribution is mentioned in the outline of how the list was developed.

"It's important to note that the GAO and other federal agencies continue to seek advice from social workers and NASW in reviewing its policies and practices," Herman said. "It's essential for us to help military personnel and veterans receive the care and benefits they deserve."

Herman noted that the VA employs a large number of social workers who are instrumental in helping veterans obtain disability benefits.

"As more military personnel return home from service, it's vital that their access to Social Security benefits be as effective and efficient as possible," she added.