Is PTSD A Disability? | Slepian Ellexson, PLLC

Is PTSD A Disability? | Understanding Eligibility for SSD

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What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition triggered by experiencing or witnessing traumatic events. It’s characterized by symptoms like flashbacks, avoidance behaviors, visceral changes in thoughts and feelings, and other negative experiences. These symptoms can severely impact one’s ability to perform work-related activities consistently.

If you’re struggling with this disorder, you might wonder, does PTSD qualify for disability benefits? Both SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) are federal programs which provide financial benefits to individuals who cannot work because of a disability. If your PTSD inhibits your ability to maintain gainful employment, you may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.

It’s important to understand the eligibility criteria and application process for these benefits. When you work with our qualified Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyers, you can rely on our knowledge and dedication. With over 40 years’ worth of experience, our law firm is prepared to fight for you.

More About PTSD

Understanding the complex nature of PTSD is crucial for those afflicted, as well as for their support networks. PTSD manifests in various ways, each impacting the individual uniquely. Below is a breakdown of the four primary symptom categories associated with PTSD, providing insight into how this disorder can affect daily life.

  • Re-Living/Re-Experiencing: This includes having flashbacks or nightmares that bring back memories of the traumatic incident.
  • Avoidance Behaviors: Involves deliberately steering clear of places, individuals, or scenarios that are reminders of the traumatic experience.
  • Elevated Negativity: Characterized by a rise in negative emotions and thoughts, such as feeling guilty or perceiving the world as a threatening place.
  • Hyperarousal Symptoms: Individuals experience a state of heightened alertness, often resulting in jitteriness, irritability, a quick temper, or reckless and impulsive actions.

PTSD can significantly affect an individual’s life as well as their work abilities. If you’re living with this disorder, you may feel trapped by your symptoms and restricted from enjoying life the way you used to. If you become unable to earn a living wage and take care of yourself, this stress and fear can compound.

Social Security Disability benefits can help take some of the weight off your shoulders. To get started on your disability claim, contact our law firm today for a free case evaluation.

Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder A Disability?

PTSD is considered a disability by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This means the disorder is listed in the Blue Book, under Section 12.00 for Mental Disorders, as a disabling condition. Blue Book listings are impairments that qualify individuals for SSD benefits.

Determining eligibility for disability benefits under a PTSD claim involves meticulous assessment. The evaluation process includes five critical steps:

  • Assessment of Current Work Activity: The SSA first checks if you’re engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). If your earnings exceed a certain threshold, you might not qualify as disabled.
  • Severity of Your Medical Condition: Your medical condition must significantly limit your ability to perform basic work activities.
  • Meeting Specific Medical Criteria: The SSA has a list of medical criteria for each qualifying condition. Your PTSD must meet or equal the criteria under this listing to qualify for benefits.
  • Ability to Perform Past Work: The SSA examines if your PTSD prevents you from performing any work you have done in the last fifteen years.
  • Capability to Adapt to Other Work: If you can’t do your past work, the SSA evaluates whether you can adjust to other work considering your condition, age, education, and work experience.

How to Get Disability for PTSD

Can you get disability for post-traumatic stress disorder? By now, you know that the answer to this question is yes. However, that doesn’t guarantee you’ll be approved for benefits.

For a robust application, it’s crucial to provide comprehensive medical documentation of your PTSD symptoms, treatments, and how they affect your functionality. Seeking treatment from specialists like psychiatrists, psychologists, or therapists can strengthen your case, as it demonstrates the seriousness of your condition.

For individuals over the age of 50, the SSA applies certain unique rules to disability claims. These special considerations could lead to a disability determination even if you’re capable of performing some full-time work.

Consulting with an attorney well-versed in Social Security Disability regulations is crucial to understanding your options. We invite you to reach out to Slepian Ellexson, PLLC for guidance. We’ll assess your situation and assist with filing your claim while keeping crucial SSA guidelines in mind.

Types of Evidence

When filing for disability with a diagnosis of PTSD, it’s essential to present concrete medical evidence to support your claim. This evidence should comprehensively document the nature and impact of your PTSD. Here’s how you can effectively organize and present this information:

  • Documentation of PTSD Event(s): Records should include instances of exposure to life-threatening or traumatic events such as severe injury, violence, or the threat of death.
  • Record of Recurring Symptoms: This includes documented cases of involuntarily reliving the traumatic experience, such as through flashbacks or nightmares.
  • Evidence of Avoidance Patterns: Medical notes detailing your efforts to avoid situations, places, or people that remind you of the trauma.
  • Details of Behavioral and Mood Changes: Official records showing any disturbances in mood and behavior patterns due to PTSD.
  • Indications of Increased Arousal and Reactivity: Medical documentation highlighting symptoms like heightened reactivity or arousal, including irritability or hyper-vigilance.
  • Detailed PTSD Episode Records: Comprehensive medical reports outlining specific episodes, including the duration of panic attacks and the frequency of PTSD symptoms.
  • Impact on Daily Functioning: Records that demonstrate how PTSD affects your daily living and functional abilities.

It’s important to note that relying solely on general practitioners or family doctors for PTSD treatment might be perceived as an indication of less severe symptoms by the SSA. It’s advisable to consult with healthcare professionals who have expertise in PTSD. These can include:

  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Therapists
  • Clinical Social Workers
  • Counselors

Optimizing your application with thorough and relevant medical records is key to a successful disability claim for PTSD. Our seasoned attorneys can offer guidance through the claims process and assist you in determining the crucial medical evidence you need.

Medical Vocational Allowance

Apart from the standard evaluation, there is an alternative route to obtaining benefits known as a medical vocational allowance. When you don’t meet the SSA’s criteria to qualify for SSDI or SSI, but your disability still prevents you from working, you can apply for this allowance.

The SSA will assess your PTSD symptoms and other possible mental or physical impairments. If it’s found that your symptoms prevent you from working, you will be granted benefits.

If you’re considering applying for disability due to PTSD, or if your PTSD does not meet the SSA’s standard evaluation criteria, contact our Social Security Disability lawyers. We will guide you through the disability application process and help ensure your case is presented effectively.

Contact Slepian Ellexson, PLLC | PTSD Lawyers for Social Security Disability Benefits

The journey to obtain Social Security Disability can be challenging, but with the right support, you can present a strong case for your PTSD disability claim.

Contact Slepian Ellexson, PLLC to schedule a free case evaluation. We’re here to assist you every step of the way towards achieving the support and benefits you deserve.

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