Thursday, July 18, 2024

Social Security Disability Requirements For Ptsd

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Mental Health And Disability

Make Your PTSD Disability Case Stronger with a Written Summary of Your Trauma

A mental health condition can be considered to be a disability according to the definition. But not every mental health condition will be considered as a disability.

For a mental health condition to be considered a disability, it has to meet the criteria in the definition to have a substantial and long-term adverse effect on normal day-to-day activity. Examples are given in the guidance published alongside the Act.

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Signs And Symptoms Of Trauma / Stressor

Not everyone who experiences trauma will develop PTSD or other stressor-related disorders. Those who do may experience a wide variety and severity of symptoms that can resolve in weeks, months, or sometimes become chronic. The SSA describes some possible signs and symptoms of this type of disorder:

  • Persistent negative emotional states
  • Sleep disturbances

Tips Regarding Va And Social Security Ptsd Disability Claims

  • VA benefits are not considered earned income and therefore do not affect your eligibility for getting SSDI benefits. So if the two benefits added together surpass the SSDI income requirements, you are still eligible for those benefits and your chances for approval are not impacted.
  • Just as important, if VA grants disability benefits to you, do not assume that SSA will too. Many veterans who receive VA compensation for PTSD do not qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance for PTSD. Remember, VA disability benefits are based on percentages SSDI benefits are based on that you are totally disabled from working.
  • SSA may also use a veterans evidence to expedite processing of claims for Wounded Warriors and veterans with a 100% disability rating.

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Applying For Social Security Disability Benefits

You could receive Social Security disability benefits if you meet these requirements:

  • Your condition falls under the Social Security Administrations definition of a disability
  • You paid Social Security taxes at your jobs

Typically, monthly benefit payments are available to workers who are unable to return to their jobs for longer than a year. If your PTSD results from a traumatic event outside of work and prevents you from maintaining employment, you could apply for benefits. The amount of your payments will depend on the number of years you worked and your average wages before your diagnosis.

Waiting For Benefits Payments After Approval

The Impact of PTSD on Disabled Veterans

If you got a letter from the Social Security Administration notifying you that your application for SSD was approved, you may be wondering when your first benefits check will arrive.

According to the SSA, once your application is approved, it can take six months from the approval date for you to receive your first payment. However, in our experience, the SSA usually processes your benefits much faster than that. Delays can occasionally occur, however. For example, if you received Workers Compensation for an injury, you will need to submit your documentation to the SSA for review, which can delay the arrival of your first SSD payment.

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Disability Compensation For Veterans With Ptsd

The VA will acknowledge PTSD is a service-related disability provided you can verify that your PTSD symptoms are directly linked to your military service. The VA considers the following scenarios to be traumatic events, or stressors, in a veterans claim for disability benefits based on PTSD:

  • you sustained serious injury, personal or sexual trauma, or sexual violation, or
  • you were threatened with injury, sexual assault, or death

The VA reports that PTSD is the leading mental health issue suffered by troops returning home from combat. As stated by the VAs National Center for PTSD, many veterans of recent combat operations experience PTSD, including:

  • 11 to 20 out of every 100 veterans who participated in Operations Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom
  • 12 out of every 100 Gulf War Veterans who participated in the Gulf War
  • 30 out of every 100 Vietnam veterans who participated in the Vietnam War had PTSD in their lifetime.
  • PTSD can relate to a traumatic sexual event. A distressing number of veterans have suffered sexual assault, abuse, and harassment while serving in the armed forces, referred to as military sexual trauma .

Eligibility for disability benefits for PTSD from the VA is based on the following:

Remember, if you are a veteran diagnosed with PTSD, you may qualify for VA compensation, Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, or both.

Does Everyone Get Ptsd After A Traumatic Experience

No. But nearly everyone will have the symptoms of post-traumatic stress for the first month or so. This is because they can help to keep you going, and help you to understand the experience you have been through.

This is an acute stress reaction. Over a few weeks, most people slowly come to terms with what has happened, and their stress symptoms start to disappear.

Not everyone is so lucky. About 1 in 3 people will find that their symptoms just carry on and that they cant come to terms with what has happened.

It is as though the process has got stuck. The symptoms of post-traumatic stress, although normal in themselves, become a problem or Post-traumatic Stress Disorder when they go on for too long.

The more disturbing the experience, the more likely you are to develop PTSD. The most traumatic events:

  • are sudden and unexpected
  • cause mutilation and loss of arms or legs
  • involve children.

If you continue to be exposed to stress and uncertainty, this will make it difficult or impossible for your PTSD symptoms to improve.

Everybody feels stressed from time to time. Unfortunately, the word stress is used to mean two rather different things:

  • our inner sense of worry, feeling tense or feeling burdened
  • the problems in our life that are giving us these feelings. This could be work, relationships, maybe just trying to get by without much money.

We dont know for certain. There are a several possible explanations for why PTSD occurs.

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Social Security Disability For Ptsd

You went through something shocking, traumatic, and disturbing. Maybe it was an accident, natural disaster, or violence. Under the circumstances, it was normal to feel stress and fear.

But over time, those feelings didnt fade like they should. They leave you unable to function like you did before.

You could have post-traumatic stress disorder . If its so severe that you cant work, it just creates more stress about money and the direction your life is going.

Monthly checks from Social Security disability could provide the crucial financial support you need to work through this difficult time. But benefits are hard to get.

Proving PTSD to Social Security comes with particular challenges. You might need legal assistance to qualify for disability income.

Penar Law has helped thousands of people win benefits in the Spokane area and across Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder And Your Social Security Disability Case

Social Security Disability and PTSD

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.

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Creating A Supportive Environment

Its helpful if employers create an environment where staff feel able to talk openly about mental health.

For example:

  • treating mental and physical health as equally important
  • making sure employees have regular one-to-ones with their managers, to talk about any problems theyre having
  • encouraging positive mental health, for example arranging mental health awareness training, workshops or appointing mental health champions who staff can talk to

Employers can find out more about promoting positive mental health at work, including:

  • understanding mental health
  • creating a mental health strategy
  • educating the workforce

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One Call To Our Law Firm Does It All

The relationship between the VA and SSA, and the types of disability benefits they provide can become complex. At Marc Whitehead & Associates, we take care of everything for you.

Our experienced disability attorneys will help you fill out forms and paperwork, supplement your claims with additional key records and supporting evidence, coordinate with doctors and more, to successfully present your claim and obtain the maximum appropriate benefits that are rightfully yours.

Come to us when you need help:

  • developing and proving your veterans claim for PTSD,
  • improving your VA rating,
  • applying for possible Social Security Disability Insurance in addition to or as an alternative to your veterans disability,
  • qualifying for a medical vocational allowance, or
  • appealing a VA or SSDI claim denial.

Do not wait any longer. Call us toll free at or request a Free Consultation to find out how we can help. PTSD is a serious disability, and we are prepared to assist you wherever you live.

Marc Whitehead & Associates are Accredited Veterans Claim Attorneys as required to practice law before the VA. We represent veterans at all levels within the VA disability system including claims before the VA Regional Office, the Board of Veterans Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

About Marc Whitehead

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How To Get Ptsd Disability Benefits

Help is available for people trying to secure PTSD disability benefits.

  • Social workers and case managers are agents that advocate for their clients in many ways, including helping people through the PTSD benefits application process.
  • Social Security offices in local communities provide assistance with the PTSD disability application process
  • is an organization of dedicated disability lawyers that efficiently and quickly help people secure disability benefits.
  • Social Security Disability Advocates provides free evaluation and assistance for applying for PTSD disability.

If you prefer to complete the application process on your own, Social Security and SSDI each have websites that provide information, eligibility screening tools, instructions, and applications.

If you are a military veteran, you may qualify for PTSD VA benefits, too. Combat PTSD and military sexual trauma are two types of posttraumatic stress disability claims. These benefits are non-taxable and are not dependent on receiving Social Security or vocational-allowance benefits. Contact the National Center For PTSD for both military and civilian information.

When, despite time and treatment, the effects of PTSD dont diminish and PTSD prevents someone from working, PTSD becomes a disability. When this happens, PTSD disability benefits can provide financial help by removing one very big stressor from someones plate thats already full of trauma-induced stress.

Benefits For Widows Or Widowers With Disabilities

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If something happens to a worker, benefits may be payable to their widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse with a disability if the following conditions are met:

  • The widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse is between ages 50 and 60.
  • The widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse has a medical condition that meets our definition of disability for adults and the disability started before or within seven years of the worker’s death.

Widows, widowers, and surviving divorced spouses cannot apply online for survivors benefits. If they want to apply for these benefits, they should contact Social Security immediately at 1-800-772-1213 to request an appointment

To speed up the application process, complete an Adult Disability Report and have it available at the time of your appointment.

We use the same definition of disability for widows and widowers as we do for workers.

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Can You Do Any Other Type Of Work

If you cant do the work you did in the past, we look to see if there is other work you could do despite your medical impairment.

We consider your medical conditions, age, education, past work experience, and any transferable skills you may have. If you cant do other work, well decide you qualify for disability benefits. If you can do other work, well decide that you dont have a qualifying disability and your claim will be denied.

Ready To Make A Claim 3 Steps To Presenting A Strong Va Ptsd Claim

Now that you know how the VA rates PTSD, its important to understand some best practices for making a claim. Keep in mind that PTSD claims can complicate the already confusing and murky claims process. Even with the new regulations passed in 2010 that make it easier for veterans with PTSD to qualify for VA benefits, a veteran with a PTSD claim will face unique challenges.

There are three requirements that make up a claim for PTSD:

  • A current diagnosis
  • A link between the current diagnosis and stressor
  • So, you can make a strong claim by presenting these three requirements.

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    Filing For Social Security Disability With A Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Diagnosis

    Post traumatic stress disorder cases are approved by SSA either by satisfying the criteria under Section 12.06 of the Blue Book, or by medical vocational allowance.

    Most PTSD claims are approved as a medical vocational allowance. If SSA finds that your PTSD symptoms are not severe enough to meet the listing, it will award a medical allowance if the condition is severe enough to prevent you from working in a former job and severe enough to prevent you from working at another job that would pay you a substantial and gainful income.

    Symptoms Of Ptsd Disability

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    VA focuses on the behavioral symptoms that accompany PTSD. There are four distinct diagnostic symptom clusters the number of symptoms that must be identified depends on the cluster. A disturbance should continue for more than a month.


    Spontaneous, unwanted memories of the traumatic event, recurring dreams related to it, flashbacks, panic attacks, or other intense or prolonged emotional distress.


    Extreme avoidance of distressing memories, people, thoughts, feelings or external reminders that you associate with the traumatic event.

    Negative cognitions and mood

    Adverse changes to mood encompass all sorts of negative feelings, from constant and distorted assumptions of survivors guilt, blame of self or others, to feeling isolated, or a markedly reduced interest in everyday activities, to failure to remember key features of the traumatic event.


    These symptoms include aggressive, reckless or self-destructive behavior, violent outbursts, sleep disturbances, trouble concentrating, hypervigilance and jumpiness, and related problems.

    Symptoms also account for the fight reaction often seen in PTSD patients.

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    Who Qualifies For Ssd

    SSD benefits are authorized for those with a total disability who have paid a minimum amount of Social Security taxes. SSD is also provided for people with low or no vision plus widows or widowers with disabilities, children with disabilities, and, in the words of the SSA, wounded military service members.

    Social Security Administration literature says you are considered totally disabled when:

    • You cannot do the work you did before
    • You cannot adjust to other work because of your disability
    • Your disability will probably last for at least one year, or cause you to die

    How Much Work Do You Need

    In addition to meeting our definition of disability, you must have worked long enough and recently enough under Social Security to qualify for disability benefits.

    Social Security work credits are based on your total yearly wages or self-employment income. You can earn up to four credits each year.

    The amount needed for a work credit changes from year to year. In 2022, for example, you earn one credit for each $1,510 in wages or self-employment income. When you’ve earned $6,040 you’ve earned your four credits for the year.

    The number of work credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age when your disability begins. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year your disability begins. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.

    For more information on whether you qualify, refer to How You Earn Credits.

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    How Is Ptsd Diagnosed For Social Security

    You may have wondered what a mental health doctor looks for in order to make a diagnosis of PTSD. You might even wonder if PTSD requires trauma resulting from exposure to extreme danger such as combat or experience of an assault. This is how most people generally think of PTSD. However, the National Institute of Health cautions that not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. While victims of or witnesses to extreme violence and/or danger may certainly be who we think of when we think of PTSD, sometimes, an event in which the person who is ultimately traumatized was never in actual danger or perceived danger can result in PTSD. The National Institute of Health uses the unexpected death of a loved one as an example of such a trauma-inducing event which can ultimately lead to PTSD.

    In addition to an underlying trauma, the National Institute of Health requires that an individual experience at least one re-experiencing symptom, one avoidance symptoms, two arousal and reactivity symptoms and two cognition and mood symptoms to diagnose PTSD in a patient. Examples of these are listedhere. While these criteria sound complicated, they really are not. They are as simple as having bad dreams or intrusive thoughts about ones trauma avoiding anything that reminds you of the underlying trauma irritability trouble sleeping or feeling guilty, anxious, or depressed.

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