Can You Get Disability for PTSD? PTSD and Social Security

Can You Get Disability for PTSD? PTSD and Social Security

Steven Schwartzapfel -Founding Partner Jan 6, 2023

For more than 35 years, Steven Schwartzapfel, the founding member of Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C., has been one of New York’s most prominent personal injury attorneys. Steve represents clients in all types of personal injury cases. His experience, skill, and dedication have enabled Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. to recover hundreds of millions of dollars for their clients.

Social Security disability benefits are intended to compensate disabled individuals who can’t work or earn enough income to support themselves.

While most Americans understand that Social Security disability covers physical disabilities like paraplegia or blindness, they’re less certain whether they can recover disability benefits for mental health conditions like PTSD.

You may wonder whether you can get disability for PTSD, especially if you have only recently developed this condition and it’s beginning to affect your work potential. Read on for more information or contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers today at 1-516-342-2200 for a free consultation.

PTSD and Its Symptoms

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a long-term and recurring psychological disorder, typically characterized by symptoms including anxiety, panic attacks, or difficulty concentrating. PTSD may be acquired after stressful or traumatizing events, such as auto accidents, experiences in battle or with violence, traumatic medical procedures, and more.

PTSD affects millions of people to varying degrees. Depending on one’s personality and the nature of their PTSD, they may experience symptoms such as:

  • Feelings of shame, guilt, or hopelessness
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Trouble sleeping or insomnia
  • Anxiety symptoms, including panic attacks
  • Depressive symptoms, including the development of depression
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Excessive fear
  • Involuntary physical symptoms, like twitching and/or sweating
  • Mood swings

PTSD can have severe symptoms if left untreated. Furthermore, PTSD can interfere with one’s work duties, relationships, and day-to-day experiences. For these reasons, many people with PTSD seek to acquire Social Security disability assistance to pay for daily expenses and medical treatments.

Is PTSD Considered a Disability?

The Social Security Administration recognizes PTSD as an official disability or disorder because PTSD can prevent one from working or earning a substantial income. For example, you cannot reasonably be assumed to be able to maintain good job performance for long periods if your PTSD prevents you from sleeping.

Alternatively, if your PTSD symptoms result in angry outbursts or disabling fear, you cannot be expected to work a full-time job either — especially one that may include potentially triggering circumstances or individuals.

Because PTSD is considered a disability, you can receive Social Security disability benefits for your condition. To do this, you’ll have to contact a psychiatrist or psychologist to determine and diagnose your PTSD.

Furthermore, a licensed medical professional must conduct a mental status examination to determine the extent of your PTSD, its exact symptoms, and how the symptoms impact your employability and ability to hold a job.

To learn more now, call Schwartzapfel Lawyers today at 1-516-342-2200. It will be our honor and privilege to help you navigate any troubled, legal waters on your journey to recovery.

PTSD’s Listing Under Social Security

At the time of writing, the Social Security Administration evaluates PTSD under listing 12.15, which is shared by other trauma and stressor-related disorders. This listing was added in 2017.

How To Receive Disability Benefits for PTSD

In order to qualify for disability benefits from Social Security due to your PTSD, you must meet specific requirements.

PTSD Eligibility Requirements

First, you must have a complete medical record that contains evidence of all the following factors:

  • You were previously exposed to actual or threatened violence, serious injury, or death
  • You involuntarily re-experience the traumatic event. You may re-experience the traumatic event in question in dreams, flashbacks, or intrusive memories
  • You consciously or unconsciously avoid external reminders of the traumatic event
  • You experience disturbances in mood and behavior
  • You experience increased arousal and reactivity, like sleep disturbances or exaggerated responses to minor events

The SSA will look at your doctor or psychiatrist’s treatment notes to document all this evidence. Furthermore, they will see what medications you take. All of this can be important evidence supporting your claim that your PTSD is debilitating or prevents you from maintaining substantially gainful employment.

Other Necessary Criteria

The Social Security Administration will also see how your PTSD symptoms can limit your mental abilities. You cannot get disability benefits for PTSD just by having a PTSD diagnosis. Instead, you must show that your PTSD:

  • Causes an extreme or debilitating limitation; OR
  • Causes a marked (i.e., intense if not debilitating) limitation

Your PTSD must further cause the limitation in one or two (in the case of a marked limitation) of the following areas:

  • Interacting with other people in socially appropriate ways
  • Concentrating on tasks
  • Understanding, using, or remembering information
  • Managing or adapting oneself to different situations

To speak with an experienced NYS disability attorney at no charge, call Schwartzapfel Lawyers today at 1-516-342-2200.

How Knowledgeable Attorneys Can Help

It can be very difficult to prove that you have these limitations, especially as the terms “extreme” and “marked” are subjective. What may constitute an extreme disturbance or limitation to one’s behavior in one person may not constitute the same limitation for another person.

Therefore, knowledgeable attorneys can help you gather evidence to support your claim and help you qualify for PTSD Social Security benefits. For example, the right attorneys can help you collect evidence, including:

  • Medical notes or recommendations from a doctor or your psychiatrist
  • Eyewitness accounts or notes from family members and friends
  • Journal entries and notes from yourself
  • Notes from your supervisor at work or your coworkers
  • And more!

If you don’t have the above-mentioned limitations, you may still be found medically disabled by Social Security. This will only occur if you show that you can only function with a dedicated support system.

In this case, the SSA may look for evidence of that support system that you cannot function without, such as family members who take care of you, social workers, or group homes.

How To Qualify Vocationally for PTSD Disability Benefits

If you don’t meet the medical qualifications for PTSD disability benefits, you may still qualify “vocationally.” Because PTSD affects everyone differently, your symptoms may not cause extreme or marked limitations, but they may still prevent you from maintaining substantially gainful employment, according to the SSA.

If you are found to be vocationally disabled, the Social Security Administration believes that you are unable to work or maintain a job for very long.

For instance, if your PTSD prevents you from concentrating on a task for more than five minutes, you may not be able to hold down any job regardless of its responsibilities or difficulty level.

To determine vocational disability, the SSA will look at:

  • Your medical records as before
  • The notes of friends and family members
  • The notes of previous or current workplaces

Throughout all of this, the SSA will try to determine if your PTSD-related limitations prevent you from doing any work. The SSA will gather evidence and translate them into terms that vocational experts use to determine your residual functional capacity (RFC).

PTSD and Related Conditions

If you have been diagnosed with PTSD, you may also have other diagnosable and related conditions. Depending on the severity and symptoms of those conditions, you could receive further disability benefits (by receiving a higher disability rating from the SSA).

PTSD is often diagnosed alongside mental impairments like depression and anxiety. Because of this, it’s important to document the treatment and symptoms of those conditions as well as the treatments and symptoms of your PTSD. Social Security always looks at the combined effect of all of a person’s impairments when assessing their residual functional capacity.

If your PTSD is not fully disabling by itself, a combination of limitations or conditions may add up to a fully disabling RFC, enabling you to receive Social Security disability benefits.

For more on this and related subjects, contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers now either online or at 1-516-342-2200. After one free consultation, you will leave feeling more knowledgeable about the law and less anxious about your financial future.

Applying for PTSD Disability Benefits

Applying for PTSD disability benefits through Social Security starts with filing an online application. The application does not need to be finished all at once. However, you must keep track of the application number that your file receives when you begin the application process so you can pick up from where you left off.

It’s a good idea to have your lawyers look over your PTSD disability benefits application or go through the process with you. In this way, you’ll make sure that you file all the right paperwork, fill out your information correctly, and provide the right evidence to make your claim as strong as possible.

Alternatively, you can apply for PTSD Social Security benefits in person or by calling them over the phone at 1-800-722-1213. The Social Security Administration additionally offers a hard-of-hearing or deaf number for the same purposes at 1-800-325-0778.

If you need assistance with your application, contact the knowledgeable lawyers Schwartzapfel Lawyers today at 1-516-342-2200 for a free case evaluation and so much more.

What Kind of Documentation Do You Need?

Any PTSD disability claim’s success is contingent on providing sufficient documentation.

To begin, you need to provide Social Security with all relevant medical records over the last few years. You can get these records from your medical office, your therapist, and from other medical facilities that may have treated you previously.

In addition, you should ask your mental health provider to complete an RFC form on your behalf or write a letter for the same reasons. The RFC form will ask for an official diagnosis and ask for answers regarding your ability to:

  • Maintain concentration on a single task
  • Make work-related decisions
  • Remember and carry out complex instructions
  • Be on time to work
  • And beyond

Essentially, your mental health care provider can maximize your chances of getting disability benefits by filling out an RFC form and answering the above questions honestly. Your mental health provider should state their medical basis for whatever their opinions are, as well as recommend whether or not you should receive disability benefits.

In addition to that evidence, you should try to obtain third-party statements that are written by coworkers, former bosses, as well as friends and family members. These can all help demonstrate that you aren’t able to work and should receive disability benefits accordingly.

Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers Today

As you can see, it is very possible to receive Social Security disability for PTSD. To do so, however, you will need to file your claim correctly and also gather and document all relevant evidence. In turn, these materials will be assessed by the SSA who will then make a decision about whether disability benefits are required to facilitate a reasonable standard of living.

That said, all of this can be made easier with knowledgeable attorneys on your side. Experienced Social Security disability attorneys can help you file the right paperwork on time, collect appropriate evidence for your case, and effectively present your side of the story in order to prove that you need disability benefits for your PTSD.

For a free case evaluation and more information, don’t wait! Instead, contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers today at 1-516-342-2200 and allow us the privilege of fighting for you!

Sources:

Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C. | Fighting For You

Disability Benefits | SSA

Disability Evaluation Under Social Security: 12.00 Mental Disorders – Adult | SSA.gov

The Evolution of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in American Cinema and Culture | Institutional Scholarship

Psychiatry.org – What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? | Psychiatry.org

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