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Arizona Social Security Disability Blog

Monday, October 17, 2016

Disability Benefits for Individuals with PTSD

Am I eligible for SSDI if I am suffering from post traumatic stress disorder?

Have you been involved in a traumatic event? Are you plagued by feelings of hopelessness, guilt or shame? Do you have difficulty concentrating or remembering things? Are you angry and irritable? Do you have trouble sleeping or experience excessive anxiety or fear?

If you answered yes to these questions, you may be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If these symptoms are interfering with your everyday life, you should medical attention. Certainly, most individuals who survive a traumatic event suffer a certain amount of shock or fear, but those with severe symptoms will get worse without treatment: often a combination of medication and counseling. Those who are unable to work due to PTSD may also be eligible for social security disability benefits. 

SSDI and PTSD

In order to obtain disability benefits for PTSD, it is necessary to satisfy the criteria listed in the Social Security Administration's Blue Book. This means that there must be medically documented evidence of one of the these symptoms:

  • Repeated, disturbing memories of a trauma that result in severe distress
  • Long lasting anxiety
  • Irrational fear of a particular object or place that makes one avoid it
  • Frequent panic attacks occurring once a week or more
  • Persistent obsessions and compulsions

In addition, it is necessary to demonstrate that these symptoms cause significant limitations in at least two areas: daily living, social functioning, or concentration, persistence, or pace. Alternatively, the symptoms must leave an individually totally incapable of functioning independently outside of the home.

On the other hand, those who do not meet the above-listed requirements may still be eligible for benefits though a "medical vocational allowance." This is a specific approval that takes into account an applicant's work history, age, education and "Residual Functional Capacity." This refers to the amount of activity an individual is capable of performing despite his or her impairments.

Medical Evidence of PTSD

As with any disability claim, it is necessary to provide medical evidence of PTSD and any other impairments related to the traumatic event. This evidence includes records of inpatient or outpatient psychiatric treatment and counseling and therapy notes. In some cases, it may also be helpful for a medical provider to submit an RFC form. 

The Takeaway

In the end, there is a growing awareness of the debilitating effects of PTSD, and those who are suffering with this disorder may obtain relief with proper medical treatment. For those who meet the SSA's criteria, disability benefits are also available. Nonetheless, submitting an application is a complicated process that requires the advice and counsel of an experienced disability benefits attorney


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