Can Individuals with PTSD Qualify for SSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder, generally shortened to PTSD, is a mental health disorder commonly caused by abuse, near-death experiences, sexual assault, military service, and other situations that cause lasting mental trauma. While most trauma heals with time, PTSD generally worsens with time if not treated and managed. Because it often leads to flashbacks, panic attacks, and other serious disturbances, PTSD can definitely interfere with a person’s ability to work.
If you have been diagnosed with PTSD and it is keeping you out of the workforce, let’s find out if you can receive SSDI benefits. Call the Dansby Law Firm at 334-834-7001 to set up a consultation now.
How the SSA Looks at PTSD
The SSA does have a listing in the Listing of Impairments for PTSD and similar disorders. Listing 12.15 is for trauma- and stressor-related disorders. You must fit the qualifications of two headings. First, you must meet all of these criteria:
- Exposure to serious injury, violence, or the threat of death
- Involuntary flashbacks, memories, dreams, or other ways of re-experiencing the traumatizing event
- Avoidance of reminders of the traumatizing event
- Mood and behavior disturbances
- Increases in reactivity and excitement level (excitement in terms of physiological excitement, not emotional excitement)
You must also meet the criteria of this heading:
- Extreme limitation of one or marked limitations of two of these: ability to understand, remember, and apply information; interact with others; concentrate and continue working on a task; managing yourself
Or the criteria of this heading:
- Disorder is considered serious and persistent in that it has been documented for at least two years with both medical or mental health treatment that diminishes the signs of the disorder and a limited ability to adapt to changes in your routine and lifestyle
This listing is fairly straightforward and may allow many PTSD sufferers to qualify for SSDI. It does require a substantial amount of medical evidence and documentation, which is why it may be helpful to work with a physician who understands the SSA’s expectations and standards for evidence.
What If You Don’t Qualify Under the Blue Book Listing?
Given that the Blue Book listing for PTSD and related disorders is so specific, not everyone will qualify that way. That doesn’t mean that your PTSD isn’t serious enough to warrant disability benefits, nor does it mean that you have no chance of getting approved. You simply have to qualify with a medical-vocational allowance. A medical-vocational allowance looks at the limitations of your disability, your work history, and your age to determine if you should receive benefits.
This involves going through an RFC assessment. Your Residual Functional Capacity is what you are able to do, despite your disability. It is usually very specific, allowing the SSA to determine what type of work you can and cannot do.
For example, imagine you worked in manufacturing prior to your disability. However, your RFC says that you cannot stand for longer than an hour without at least a half-hour break after each hour-long period. It also says that you cannot safely operate heavy machinery. This would largely bar you from your field of employment. If the SSA determines that you cannot work in your previous field and that you are unable to work in any other field, they may approve you for SSDI benefits.
Documentation is Key
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of medical documentation with the SSA. The more evidence you submit, the stronger your claim may be.
You may want to submit documentation from multiple professionals, including your primary psychiatrist, counselors you see, and general practitioners who treat the physical symptoms of your PTSD. You may also want documentation of treatments that you have tried and that have not been successful, as this shows that you are trying to manage your disability. Additionally, you may want to submit proof of time off of work due to your diagnosis.
Reach Out to the Dansby Law Firm Now
If your PTSD has left you unable to work, don’t wait any longer to pursue the benefits you need to provide for your family. The Dansby Law Firm is here to help you navigate the SSDI system. Just call us at 334-834-7001 or connect with us online to get started.