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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Social Security Disability

More than 5-million Americans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), also known as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. The symptoms of the condition varies from individual to individual, but in some cases PTSD can be very disabling and may have a detrimental impact on one's ability to function in normal day-to-day life. Individuals who suffer from the condition may not be able to work due to the issues caused by the disorder. If you or someone you know is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and you want to know whether or not the condition qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits, the following information can help you through the disability application process.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - Condition and Symptoms

After an individual suffers from a serious and traumatic event, it is not uncommon for PTSD to develop. This severe anxiety disorder is commonly seen in individuals who have been in military combat, although victims of crimes and other disasters can develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well.

Individuals who suffer from PTSD will experience a variety of symptoms. The exact symptoms experienced will vary depending on the particular individual, although common symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder include emotional numbness, feelings of hopelessness, guilt, shame, self-destructive behavior, irritability, nightmares, insomnia, hallucinations and social isolation.

The symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will normally begin to manifest within three months of the event that led to the disorder. In some cases, however, the condition may not manifest for years. At times, a patient experiencing PTSD may feel that they are getting better, only to have the symptoms come back full force at a later point in time. This is because the symptoms of the disorder can come and go, being ignited by stress or a situation that triggers a memory of the event.

In some cases post traumatic stress symptoms will resolve itself within a short period of time. In other cases, however, the condition may become worse and may interfere with an individual's ability to conduct normal day-to-day activities. If the symptoms do not resolve and the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is interfering with a person's quality of life, treatment will be necessary.

While there is no cure for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, treatment is available to help resolve the issues surrounding the disorder and to alleviate the resulting symptoms. The sooner the patient begins treatment, the easier it will be for the patient to recover from the condition. Treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will often include a combination of counseling, therapy and medication. Anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and anti-anxiety medications are often prescribed to help treat PTSD.

Filing for Social Security Disability with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

If you are filing for Social Security Disability benefits, the examiner reviewing your claim will refer to a published listing of impairments known as the SSA “Blue Book”. This Blue Book is used to evaluate whether or not a disabling condition qualifies an individual for Social Security Disability payments. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is covered under Section 12.06 of this publication.

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits based on a case of PTSD your condition must be severe enough to prevent you from performing any substantial gainful activity. Under the guidelines of Section 12.06 you must have a difficulty functioning socially, your ability to concentrate must be affected, you must have experienced an extended period of worsening psychiatric symptoms and you must meet the other guidelines set forth by the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you do not meet the published guidelines set forth under Section 12.06, you must be able to prove that your Post Traumatic Stress Disorder prevents you from being able to function outside of your home.

If you do not meet any of the above guidelines but your PTSD still prevents you from being able to maintain employment, you may still be able to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. You will just need to prove that the condition is severe enough that you are unable to work and you will likely have to go through the Social Security Disability appeal process in order to obtain benefits.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Your Social Security Disability Case

If your specific case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder meets all of the SSA's impairment guidelines and you have enough medical evidence documenting this fact, you may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits at the initial stage of the application process. If your initial application is denied, it does not necessarily mean you will not be able to obtain the disability benefits you need. You will, however, have to go through the Social Security Disability appeal process in order to receive your disability payments. The SSA denies approximately 70 percent of the Social Security Disability applications that they receive each year. The Social Security Disability appeal process involves a hearing before an administrative law judge.

If you are looking to file an initial claim due to PTSD or have already been denied, you should consider retaining the services of a qualified disability attorney. While two-thirds of appeals are awarded at this stage of appeals, your chances of receiving a favorable decision are increased with proper legal representation.