Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be quite severe, resulting in pronounced symptoms and episodes of flashbacks or cognitive regression that may prevent you from maintaining gainful employment. If your PTSD is expected to keep you out of work for a year or longer, Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are an option.
There are two programs with the Social Security Administration for which you may qualify with PTSD: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). In addition to meeting the medical eligibility requirements for SSD in general, you must also satisfy the technical requirements to receive benefits under either of these programs.
• For SSDI, you must have sufficient work credits built up over the course of your employment from the ten years prior to becoming disabled.
• For SSI, you must show significant financial need, with limited income and financial resources.
While there is no dedicated listing for this condition with the Social Security Administration (SSA), you can still receive benefits by meeting the SSA’s listing for anxiety-related disorders or by proving your that your functional capacity is so limited by your condition that you are unable to get and keep a job through which you can earn a substantial living.
Meeting the SSA’s Anxiety-Related Disorder Listing
PTSD SSD applications are evaluated by Disability Determination Services (DDS) claims examiners under the listing in the SSA’s Blue Book for Anxiety-Related Disorders. To meet this listing, your PTSD must either cause:
• pronounced, consistently present anxiety symptoms
• Severe anxiety symptoms when attempting to master or overcome the limitations your PTSD otherwise places on you.
Medical records necessary to prove your disability
To document that your PTSD is so severely limiting that it keeps you from working, your medical records must show at least one of the following to be true:
• You suffer from persistent anxiety symptoms that result in three or more of the following:
o Tension in motor muscle movement
o Hyperactivity in the autonomic nervous system
o Pronounced apprehension, or a consistent state of “being on guard”
o Hyper vigilance
• Irrational and ongoing fears associated with activities, situations, objects, or other circumstances, including pronounced avoidance reactions
• Ongoing and severe panic attacks, occurring at least once a week
• Ongoing obsessive or compulsive urges and behaviors that cause pronounced distress
• Intrusive and ongoing memories or flashbacks to the traumatic experience that caused your PTSD.
Qualifying for SSD under a Medical Vocational Allowance
Even if your PTSD does not meet the Anxiety Disorders listing, you may still be able to qualify for SSD benefits, provided your functional capacity is so severely affected by your condition that it prevents you from maintaining gainful employment.
After reviewing your claim under the listing, the SSA will then conduct an analysis to see if you qualify for SSD benefits under what is known as a medical vocational allowance (MVA). You and your treating physician will both be required to complete a functional analysis report form detailing the ways in which your PTSD affects your “activities of daily living” and your ability to complete normal job functions.
PTSD can cause severe limitations both mentally and physically. The symptoms from which you suffer and the frequency and duration of your episodes of decompensation, panic attacks, and flashbacks will all play a role in determining if your functional capacity is affected by your PTSD that to the point that it prevents you from getting and keeping a job.
SSD Application Process
There are multiple ways of applying for SSD benefits too. You can:
• Complete and submit your application on the SSA’s website (http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/disability.htm)
• Set an appointment with an SSA representative to complete your application via a telephone interview, under some circumstances,
• Make an appointment to complete your application in person with the help of an SSA representative at your local SSA office,
• Or, complete hardcopy application forms obtained from the SSA’s website or from your local SSA office.
Don’t be discouraged if your application for disability is denied. Almost 60% of applications for disability are initially denied. Most of the denied applications are eventually approved during the disability hearing stage of the appeals process. If your application is denied, you should strongly consider hiring a disability attorney or advocate to help you with your claim.
Article by Ram Meyyappan