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Monday, September 26, 2016

Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

What do I have to do in order to receive SSD for my PTSD?

The modern world -- with its superabundance of wars, terrorist attacks, and natural catastrophes -- creates an environment in which cases of PTSD are all too common. Veterans, victims of attacks, and first responders, as well as their families, frequently suffer one or more of the severe, disabling symptoms of PTSD.

While PTSD can be the basis of a successful Social Security Disability (SSD) claim, it is essential that such a claim be medically documented for it to pass muster. If you have become disabled and the disability is not related to your workplace (in which case it would be covered by workers compensation), you may be eligible for SSD.

As with most government programs, however, rules and regulations can be complicated, and navigating the system can be challenging, especially if you are suffering psychiatric symptoms. Your best bet is not to try to go it alone. If you have post-traumatic stress disorder and are about to apply for SSD, are in the midst of an application that is causing you stress, or have been denied benefits you feel you deserve, it is time to turn to an expert in the field, an experienced and highly skilled Social Security Disability Claims attorney.

PTSD Symptoms and Treatment

PTSD is a serious anxiety disorder that occurs after a traumatic event, such as childhood abuse, sexual assault, a severe accident, a natural disaster, or military combat. While reactions to trauma vary, and not every survivor develops PTSD serious enough to interfere with everyday life, many survivors either keep reliving the moments of horror or become emotionally frozen.

Symptoms of PTSD include one or more of the following:

  • Angry outbursts
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Excessive anxiety and/or irrational fears
  • Flashbacks
  • Hopelessness or suicidal thoughts
  • Intense feelings of guilt or shame
  • Irritability
  • Nightmares or other sleep disturbances
  • Obsessive thinking and/or compulsive behavior
  • Panic attacks

Without treatment, PTSD symptoms often worsen with the passage of time. We have all heard the tragic stories of the unprovoked attacks, suicides and homicides that sometimes result from untreated PTSD. 

Fortunately, help is available for those who suffer from the condition, including counseling, medication, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and individual or group psychotherapy.

Satisfying SSD Criteria for PTSD

There are two ways of satisfying Social Security criteria for disability due to PTSD. The first is to satisfy the requirements of SSA's "Blue Book" listing for PTSD; the second is to receive a medical-vocational allowance by demonstrating that your impairments prevent you from working.

To fulfill the criteria for the Blue Book listing, you must have medically documented evidence that you suffer from one of the following:

  • Recurrent, intrusive, distressing memories of the trauma
  • Unremitting generalized anxiety
  • Irrational fear that interferes with your ordinary routine
  • Panic attacks that occur one or more times per week
  • Persistent obsessions and compulsions

In addition to documenting one of these symptoms, you must be able to show that your symptoms have result in "marked" limitations in as least two of the following areas: concentration, daily living, persistence, pace, or social functioning or that your symptoms leave you completely incapacitated in terms of functioning independently away from home. Even if you don't meet the requirements mentioned, you can still receive a medical-vocational allowance under certain circumstances.

In order to prove that your PTSD is disabling, you will have to provide medical evidence, including records of inpatient or outpatient psychiatric treatment and clinic notes from counseling and therapy. You are much more likely to be approved for benefits if your medical references are from doctors and therapists presently treating you. Statements from third parties, such as friends, relatives, and former employers, may also be helpful.


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