Receiving SSD Benefits for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
While PTSD is a mental impairment that many of us associate solely with military veterans, other individuals can also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. According to the Recovery Village, 70 percent of adults will experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime. Of those, about 20 percent will develop PTSD symptoms. Overall, one in 13 people will develop PTSD at some point during their life.
Simply having PTSD does not mean you are automatically considered disabled. If, however, the symptoms of your PTSD are so severe they affect your ability to function in society or in your workplace, then your PTSD would likely be considered a disability. Under the SSA rules, you either meet the criteria for a PTSD disability—or you do not. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is different, allowing for varying levels of disability. To receive SSA disability benefits, the following will be taken into consideration:
- Your ability to work in your normal profession
- The monthly income you receive from working or from investments
- Your ability to perform another type of work
- Whether you have sufficient work “credits”
- Your age
- Your education
- Your training
Social Security disability uses the same process for veterans with PTSD as for non-military citizens, but veterans could be eligible for disability benefits through the VA. If you are seeking SS disability benefits for PTSD, it could greatly benefit you to speak to a knowledgeable SS disability attorney from Carmichael Law Group.
We can assess your situation, help you file an initial application, ensure you have the proper documentation—including necessary medical information—and follow the process through if you must appeal the initial decision. We understand how difficult it can be to be unable to work as a result of your PTSD, then to be told that you are not considered disabled. Our highly skilled attorneys will work hard on your behalf to help you obtain disability benefits by clearly telling your story. Your story will show what a serious impact your impairment has had on your ability to work as well as your ability to handle day-to-day tasks.
What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
PTSD is a mental health condition that is triggered by either witnessing or experiencing a terrifying event. The symptoms of PTSD can include severe anxiety, chronic nightmares, flashbacks, and uncontrollable thoughts about the experience. Some people can experience or witness a terrifying or traumatic event and may temporarily have trouble coping, but with time their symptoms will improve. If those symptoms worsen, last for months or years, or interfere with your daily functions, then you could be diagnosed with PTSD. Treatment for PTSD is crucial for reducing the symptoms of PTSD and improving your level of functioning.
While symptoms of PTSD usually begin soon after the trauma, occasionally the symptoms may not appear for years. PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four distinct “types:”
- Changes in physical and emotional reactions—being easily startled or frightened, having trouble sleeping or concentrating, being irritable, angry, or acting aggressively, experiencing overwhelming feelings of guilt or shame, exhibiting self-destructive behaviors such as driving too fast or drinking too much, and always being on guard for perceived dangers.
- Intrusive memories—recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the event, reliving the trauma through flashbacks, dreams or nightmares about the event, or severe emotional or physical reactions to anything that reminds you of the event
- Negative changes in mood and thinking—having negative thoughts about yourself or others, feeling hopeless about your future, having memory issues, particularly related to the event, experiencing difficulty maintaining close relationships, being unable to experience positive emotions, feeling emotionally “numb,” having a complete lack of interest in things you once enjoyed and feeling detached from loved ones.
- Avoidance—doing your best to avoid talking about or thinking about the trauma or avoiding any place, activity, or person that might remind you of the event.
Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder a Disability Under Social Security Disability Rules?
In 2017, PTSD was listed under 12.15 in the impairment listings—Trauma and Stressor-related disorders. To qualify, you must have medically documented evidence of ALL the following:
- Exposure to a serious injury, violence, a death, or a threatened death
- Subsequent involuntary re-experiencing of the event via dreams, flashbacks, or intrusive memories
- Avoidance of all external reminders of the event
- Mood and behavior disturbances
- Exaggerated startle responses or sleep disturbances
In addition to the above, you must show you have extreme limitations in one of the following, or severe limitations in two of the following:
- Interacting with others in socially appropriate ways
- Learning, understanding, and remembering information
- Being able to concentrate on and finish a task
- Regulating emotions, adapting to changes, having practical personal skills (managing oneself)
Even if you do not have extreme or severe limitations because you are undergoing intense therapy or because you live in a highly protected environment, you can still show the following to obtain disability benefits:
- Your PTSD has been serious and persistent for at least two years
- You are undergoing medical treatment, mental health therapy, or living in a highly structured, protected setting
- You have minimal capacity to adapt to new demands or changes.
If your PTSD does not entirely fit within the above parameters, it could also be considered a disability by the SSA if the criteria under impairment listings Chapter 12, section 12.06, Anxiety-related Disorders.
Getting Help with Your Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Disability Benefits from Carmichael Law Group
PTSD is still not widely understood yet can be a debilitating disease that prevents you from working or performing normal, everyday tasks. Having a highly experienced SS disability attorney from Carmichael Law Group by your side can truly make a difference in the outcome of your application or appeal. We know exactly what documentation the SSA is looking for as well as the medical records necessary to be successful. We fight for your disability benefits because we believe you deserve an experienced, compassionate advocate in your corner during this difficult time. Contact Carmichael Law Group, LLC today.