Is Your Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder a Disability?

SSDI claims involving emotional disorders are some of the most difficult and complex cases that a Texas social security disability attorney handles. The Social Security Administration (SSA) can approve individuals for disability benefits based on emotional disorders. However, the process can be frustrating because individuals are required to prove that the emotional disorder is so severe that it prevents them from working.

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can develop when a person witnesses or is subjected to a traumatic event that is shocking, dangerous, or frightening. Examples of traumatic events can include abuse, battles during war, natural disasters, witnessing a brutal murder or extreme violence, rape, and childhood trauma.

An event that is dangerous or frightening can cause extreme emotions and responses at the time of the event. For someone with PTSD, the event never ends. They continue to relive the event or experience the symptoms that they felt at the time of the event, even when they are no longer in danger. Some individuals with PTSD may recover from their symptoms within a few months. However, some individuals experience PTSD symptoms for years.

PTSD symptoms include:

  • Re-experiencing symptoms such as flashbacks, racing heart, frightening thoughts, and bad dreams.
  • Avoidance symptoms include staying away from people, places, or thing that remind the person of the event and avoiding feelings and thoughts that trigger memories of the event.
  • Reactivity and arousal symptoms include being on edge, sleep problems, feeling tense, and having angry outbursts.
  • Mood and cognition symptoms include negative thoughts, distorted feelings such as blame or guilt, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, and trouble remembering key features about the traumatic event.

It is natural to experience some of these symptoms for several days or weeks after a traumatic event. Individuals who continue to experience the symptoms for months and the symptoms interfere with the person’s daily activities may have PTSD. Fear and flashbacks can paralyze a person and prevent the person from working or performing activities of daily living (ADLs) necessary to care for themselves or others.

Can I Receive Social Security Disability for PTSD?

For you to receive SSDI for a disabling condition, the condition must be so severe that it impacts your daily life in ways that make it impossible for you to maintain employment. In cases involving PTSD, the SSA will look for evidence that your PTSD has continued dispite receiving treatment from a medical provider and that the symptoms of your PTSD have prevented you from maintaining employment for at least one year.

The criteria the SSA uses to determine if PTSD qualifies as a disabling condition are:

  • The person was exposed to death, violence, or serious injury;
  • The individual has reoccurring flashbacks of the event or intrusive memories of the event;
  • The person actively avoids external reminders of the event;
  • There is a disturbance in the person’s behavior and mood; and,
  • The person has experienced an increase in arousal and reactivity symptoms.

You must have medical evidence that proves that you have experienced limitations in certain areas of mental functioning or that your mental disorder is “serious and persistent.” If your symptoms have not lasted long enough to qualify for SSDI, you might be able to qualify for a medical vocational allowance.

PTSD might qualify for a medical vocational allowance if the condition is so severe that you are unable to work even though the condition has not yet lasted long enough to qualify as a disabling condition under the SSA guidelines.

The Importance of Hiring a Texas SSDI Attorney

The SSA aggressively investigates claims for Social Security Disability that involve mental disorders or emotional disorders, including PTSD. These cases are extremely complex.

A person must have sufficient medical evidence and other evidence to prove that their PTSD prevents them from functioning at a level that permits them to maintain employment. An experienced Social Security Disability attorney understands the criteria necessary to obtain disability benefits.

If you are suffering from PTSD and cannot work, we want to help. Contact the Law Office of Carey Thompson for a free consultation to discuss your situation.