Social Security Disability Benefits For Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Understand SSDI eligibility for post-traumatic stress disorder, including necessary medical documentation and symptom severity required for approval. This knowledge can increase your chances of getting SSDI for PTSD.
SSDI Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Eligibility Guidelines
1. Determine if an individual is working (engaging in substantial gainful activity) according to the SSA definition. Earning more than $1,470 a month as an employee is enough to be disqualified from receiving Social Security disability benefits.
2. Conclude the post-traumatic stress disorder disability must be severe enough to significantly limit one’s ability to perform basic work activities needed to do most jobs. For example:
- Walking, standing, sitting, lifting, pushing, pulling, reaching, carrying or handling.
- Seeing, hearing and speaking.
- Understanding/carrying out and remembering simple instructions.
- Responding appropriately to supervision, co-workers and usual work situations.
- Dealing with changes in a routine work setting.
3. Post-traumatic stress disorder is listed within the diagnostic category of trauma and stresssor-related disorders under the impairment listing known as Mental Disorders – Medical Listing 12.15. The following criteria have been established indicative of the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity, i.e., if one has a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and one of the following, a finding of disabled under the Social Security Act is warranted:
12.15 Trauma- and stressor-related disorders satisfied by A and B, or A and C:
- Medical documentation of all of the following:
- Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or violence;
- Subsequent involuntary re-experiencing of the traumatic event (for example, intrusive memories, dreams, or flashbacks);
- Avoidance of external reminders of the event;
- Disturbance in mood and behavior; and
- Increases in arousal and reactivity (for example, exaggerated startle response, sleep disturbance).
- Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning:
- Understand, remember, or apply information.
- Interact with others.
- Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace.
- Adapt or manage oneself.
- Your mental disorder in this listing category is “serious and persistent;” that is, you have a medically documented history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least 2 years, and there is evidence of both:
- Medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or a highly structured setting(s) that is ongoing and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of your mental disorder; and
- Marginal adjustment, that is, you have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life.
4. Explore the ability of an individual to perform work they have done in the past despite their post-traumatic stress disorder. If the SSA finds that a person can do his or her past work, benefits are denied. If the person cannot, then the process proceeds to the fifth and final step.
5. Review age, education, work experience and physical/mental condition to determine what other work, if any, the person can perform.
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