Qualifying for SSDI after Being Diagnosed with PTSD

Qualifying for SSDI after Being Diagnosed with PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, can develop after going through or witnessing a traumatic event. While this condition is not visible to the naked eye, PTSD can last for years or even be lifelong. Symptoms include flashbacks and recurring episodes that can be disruptive to daily life.

A psychiatrist or psychologist reaches a PTSD diagnosis by evaluating the patient’s mental status and medical history. Treatment for PTSD can involve counseling, therapy, prescription medications, or a combination of treatments.

If a patient’s symptoms are severe enough to prevent them from maintaining a full-time job, he or she may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Ask one of our team members how to qualify for SSDI after being diagnosed with PTSD.

Proving Your Eligibility

Individuals whose medical records satisfy the SSA’s disability requirements for trauma and stressor related disorders may be able to obtain SSDI. The other requirement you must satisfy to reach approval is proving that your PTSD is so disruptive that it prevents you from holding gainful employment.

Satisfying the SSDI eligibility requirements with a PTSD diagnosis requires evidence of the following:

  • Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or violence
  • Subsequent involuntary re-experiencing of the traumatic event (i.e., intrusive memories, dreams, or flashbacks)
  • Avoidance of external reminders of the event
  • Disturbance in mood and behavior
  • Increases in arousal and reactivity (i.e., sleep disturbance or exaggerated startle response)

The SSA will then determine whether you have substantial functional limitations caused by post-traumatic stress. Functional limitations are measured on the basis of an extreme impairment in one of the following areas, or a severe “marked” limitation in two of the following areas:

  • Understanding, remembering, or using information (i.e., learning new things, applying knowledge to tasks, following directions)
  • Interacting with others in socially appropriate ways
  • Concentrating on tasks and completing them at a reasonable pace
  • Adapting or managing oneself in normal daily activities (i.e., regulating emotions, adapting to change, having personal skills like paying bills, hygiene, and grocery shopping)
  • Meeting your own daily needs

Medical records are extremely vital in SSDI claims, but statements from family and close friends can also offer insight into a typical episode of PTSD, including the frequency and duration of the anxiety attacks as well as what triggers worsening symptoms. It will also be necessary to obtain vocational expert testimony about how your mental state prevents you from holding any gainful employment.

These elements combined can improve your chances of qualifying for SSDI on the basis of a PTSD diagnosis. If the SSA finds that PTSD symptoms are not severe enough to keep you out of work, it will likely deny your claim for SSDI benefits, in which case a member of our team can help you file an effective appeal. To learn about the other eligibility standards imposed by the SSA, call our firm today and schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.

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Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law

Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law