Social Security Disability and PTSD
PTSD, which stands for “post traumatic stress disorder”, is a stress disorder that develops after someone sees or goes through a traumatic event. Traumatic events that may lead to PTSD include war, child abuse, sexual assault, and physical violence. PTSD can also develop after natural disasters, such as earthquakes, fires, and hurricanes. People who have PTSD suffer from feelings of anger, fear, and confusion that interfere with their daily lives and ability to work. Some of the more common symptoms of PTSD are as follows: Avoiding situations that remind you of the traumatic event Having difficulty expressing your feelings Reliving the traumatic event Experiencing irritability or anger Feeling guilt or shame Symptoms typically appear within three months of the traumatic event, but sometimes it can take several months or even years for them to surface. In some PTSD sufferers, the symptoms come and go. Many sufferers of PTSD also struggle with substance abuse, employment, and relationship problems. The diagnosis of PTSD is based on a psychological evaluation. How to Get Approved for Social Security Disability If You Have PTSD Some PTSD sufferers get approved for disability benefits if their medical records satisfy the requirements of Section 12.06 in the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) Blue Book. The Blue Book, which categorizes PTSD as an anxiety disorder, states that: “The required level of severity for these disorders is met when the requirements in both A and B are satisfied, or when the requirements in both A and C are satisfied. A. Medically documented findings of at least one of the following: 1. Generalized persistent anxiety accompanied by three out of four of the following signs or symptoms: a. Motor tension; or b. Autonomic hyperactivity; or c. Apprehensive expectation; or d. Vigilance and scanning; or 2. A persistent irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation which results in a compelling desire to avoid the dreaded object, activity, or situation; or 3. Recurrent severe panic attacks manifested by a sudden unpredictable onset of intense apprehension, fear, terror and sense of impending doom occurring on the average of at least once a week; or 4. Recurrent obsessions or compulsions which are a source of marked distress; or 5. Recurrent and intrusive recollections of a traumatic experience, which are a source of marked distress; AND B. Resulting in at least two of the following: 1. Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or 2. Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or 3. Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or 4. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration. OR C. Resulting in complete inability to function independently outside the area of one's home.” In addition, there must be documentation of anxiety reaction in cases involving PTSD. The documentation of these anxiety reactions must describe the nature, duration, and frequency of these reactions, as well as their functional effects and factors that precipitate or exacerbate them. Ideally, a doctor or psychologist who has treated you will write the description. If professional observation is not available, other people who have observed you may write it. Medical Vocational Allowance Most claimants' PTSD is not severe enough to meet the requirements of the Blue Book listing. The majority of Social Security Disability claims for PTSD are approved via medical vocational allowance. In order to qualify for medical vocational allowance, your condition must be severe enough to prevent you from engaging in past relevant work or switching to another type of work that provides a substantial and gainful income. Need Help Figuring Out Whether Your PTSD Qualifies You for Disability Benefits? If you have PTSD and need to apply for disability benefits, please call Atlanta Social Security disability attorney Louis B. Lusk at 800.883.7043 or fill out this online contact form to set up a free evaluation.