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PTSD

Learn about qualifying impairments for Social Security Disability from the team at Nash Disability Law.
Dan Rosen of Nash Disability Law knows exactly what evidence on medical impairments will win a Social Security Disability case.

Winning Social Security Disability Benefits for PTSD

In 2011, researchers started screening the patients at the trauma center at Chicago’s Stroger Hospital of Cook County for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  They were astounded by what they found. Nearly 2,000 victims of gunshots, stabbings, and other violent injuries are treated in this trauma center every year and, according to ProPublica, an independent nonprofit investigative news service, “fully 43 percent of the patients they examined and more than half of the gunshot-wound victims had signs of PTSD.”

While PTSD is generally thought of as a disorder that affects soldiers who have faced combat — and, in fact, as Sebastian Junger reported in Vanity Fair magazine, “the U.S. military now has the highest rate of PTSD in its history” — it can also strike people who have experienced other shocking, dangerous or traumatic events, like rape, physical abuse, natural disaster, or personal injuries. After a traumatic situation, nearly everyone will experience some degree of shock or fear as a result. But not everyone who lives through a dangerous event develops PTSD. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “about 7 or 8 out of every 100 people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men, and genes may make some people more likely to develop PTSD than others.”

Anyone can develop PTSD at any age. Those with PTSD often have long-lasting, severe stress symptoms, including recurring memories, flashbacks, and hyper-vigilance, that tend to worsen over time if left untreated. Treatment for PTSD often includes some combination of medication, counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or psychotherapy.

If you are unable to keep a job because of PTSD, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, but your condition has to be carefully and completely documented. As in all Social Security disability cases, it is not enough to say you are disabled; you have to prove it. In evaluating your claim, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will examine all of your medical records, including hospital records and clinic notes from doctors, therapists, and counselors. Medical records should include a detailed description of what triggers an episode, how long it usually lasts, and the frequency of the episodes. A healthcare provider’s opinion on whether the description of symptoms matches their evaluation and observations should also be included.  The medical records should include a description of how PTSD episodes adversely affect your daily life.

You should ask your treating mental health provider to provide an opinion addressing the work-related limitations caused by your PTSD, such as not being able to understand and remember simple work instructions, an inability to maintain a routine without special supervision, difficulties in interacting with others in the workplace, or habitually being late for work. Third-party statements from former employers, co-workers, family, and friends which document your interactions with them and demonstrate your inability to work due to PTSD can also be helpful in supporting your disability claim. In short, to qualify for disability benefits, you must prove to the SSA that your PTSD symptoms are so severe that you are unable to sustain the demands of even a simple, unskilled job.

If you or someone you care about cannot work because of PTSD, call the Chicago Social Security Lawyers at Nash Disability Law today for a free consultation. (For the advantages of a local disability lawyer, click here.)