After a person sees or experiences a traumatic event, such as rape, a natural disaster, or even a heart attack, they may develop post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People that suffer from PTSD often experience flashbacks and nightmares. Many PTSD sufferers are also hyper-vigilant, and may be quick to startle, anger, or become irritable. The effects of PTSD can greatly disrupt a person’s life and make even simple tasks, such as going to work, impossible.
When diagnosing PTSD, psychologists and psychiatrists will evaluate a person’s mental status, as well as their medical history. Although some studies have considered biochemical abnormalities and brain imaging, this is not enough to constitute a formal diagnosis. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, counseling, and antidepressant medications are often used to treat PTSD. The medical expenses can quickly add up, at a time when a person is often unable to work. When this is the case, they often wonder if they can get disability for PTSD.
The experienced social security disability lawyers at Jerome, Salmi & Kopis, LLC can help to simplify the application process and be your guide during this difficult time in your life. Call us to discuss your situation. We look forward to hearing from you!
Obtaining Disability Benefits for PTSD
Disability claims for post-traumatic stress disorder are approved in one of two different ways. The first is for your medical records to meet the requirements for Social Security’s new disability listing on trauma and stress-related conditions, which were added into the listing in 2017. The second way to have your claim for disability benefits approved is to obtain what is known as a ‘medical-vocational allowance.’ Most applications for disability benefits are approved using the medical-vocational allowance.
Meeting the Requirements for the Social Security Listing
The Social Security listing for PTSD is found in listing 12.15. To meet the requirements for this listing, you must provide medical records that confirms all of the following:
- You were exposed to violence, serious injury, or death, regardless of whether it occurred or was threatened,
- You involuntarily re-experience the traumatic event after it has occurred, such as by having flashbacks or nightmares,
- You avoid people, places, or things that remind you of the traumatic experience,
- There are disturbances in your behavior and mood, and
- You have increased reactions, such as being startled very easily
After a psychiatrist or psychologist has diagnosed your PTSD, Social Security will then determine if you have the required amount of limitations on your daily functions due to the condition. To show this, you must have an extreme limitations in one of the following scenarios, or have a marked limitation in two of the following areas:
- Remembering, understanding, and using new information, such as when you learn new things or have to follow instructions,
- Interacting with other people in a manner that is considered socially appropriate,
- The ability to focus on tasks in order to complete them within a reasonable amount of time, or
- Managing yourself, such as controlling your emotions or being able to pay your own bills and do your own grocery shopping
A marked limitation does not reach the level of extreme, but it does still mean you are severely limited in two of the above areas. You may not be able to qualify based on the above limitations because you live in an environment that is very protected and supervised, or because you are participating in therapy so intense it makes your limitations seem less severe. However, your limitations may still be greater in real-life scenarios in which you would face greater stressors and demands.
If the above situation applies to you, you must provide records confirming that your condition has been so persistent and serious for a period of at least two years. You must also provide documentation that verifies that you do not have the ability to adapt to the demands or changes a work environment will place upon you.
Applying for Disability Benefits for PTSD Using the Medical-Vocational Allowance
The majority of disability benefit cases involving post-traumatic stress disorder are not considered serious enough to last for the period of time required under the listing. In this case, you may use the medical-vocational allowance to help you obtain the disability benefits you need.
To qualify under the medical-vocational allowance, a mental consultant for the Social Security Administration must deem your symptoms as serious enough to prevent you from working, even though your condition does not meet the requirements under the listing for post-traumatic stress disorder. For example, if you have been experiencing issues with your concentration, or have developed poor sleeping habits that cause you chronic fatigue, these limitations may interfere with your ability to work or keep a job.
If you suffer from PTSD along with other mental disorders or physical limitations, you will have a better chance of being successful with your application for disability benefits. This is particularly true if you are aged 55 or older, have little education, or no prior history of gainful employment.
The Importance of Medical Records when Applying for Disability Benefits for PTSD
Medical records are always important when applying for disability benefits. This is not only true when applying for benefits based on PTSD, but there are also certain elements you should make sure are included in your medical documentation. These include:
- At least one description of a PTSD episode you experienced, including how long your panic attacks are, the frequency of your symptoms, and any factors that trigger your symptoms,
- A confirmation from your doctor that his diagnosis is appropriate for your symptoms, and
- The manner in which your PTSD symptoms limit your ability to function, while you are at home, and while you are at work
Claiming disability benefits is never easy, but filing an application based on PTSD is even more challenging. A disability lawyer in Illinois and Missouri can help you claim the full benefits you need.
Get Legal Help Today
The majority of applications for disability benefits are denied every year, but our disability lawyers in Illinois and Missouri can give you the best chance of getting approved. At the Law Office of Jerome Salmi Kopis, LLC, our attorneys have helped many clients obtain the disability benefits for PTSD they need, and we want to put our experience to work for you. Call us today at (618) 726-2222 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.