Battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a serious matter. PTSD is a medical condition that can affect every aspect of your life, making it difficult to function in a normal and productive way. Sometimes the symptoms become severe enough that you struggle to get out of bed, take care of yourself, or hold a job. When your PTSD is this bad you may become eligible for Social Security disability.
Social Security disability is designed as a safety net for those who, through no fault of their own, are not able to work due to some sort of medical condition. While it may be easy to see someone with a physical condition and understand why they struggle to find work, there are many people who struggle to make ends meet while they fight against real and severe mental and emotional disorders. But, while PTSD can cause a real need for disability benefits, it can often be difficult to prove.
If you feel you may need the help of Social Security disability, it is important that you file as soon as possible. You can find information on the Social Security Administration website (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/disability/apply.html) as well as an online application. But before you file, you should make sure you have all of your documentation in order. Make sure you have spoken to your therapist and can document your severe PTSD symptoms. For most people, PTSD will fall under the Anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders section of the Social Security Administration guidelines. In order to qualify for disability in this section you will need to document the following:
12.06 Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders (see 12.00B5), satisfied by A and B, or A and C:
Medical documentation of the requirements of paragraph 1, 2, or 3:
Anxiety disorder, characterized by three or more of the following;
Muscle tension; or
Panic disorder or agoraphobia, characterized by one or both:
Panic attacks followed by a persistent concern or worry about additional panic attacks or their consequences; or
Disproportionate fear or anxiety about at least two different situations (for example, using public transportation, being in a crowd, being in a line, being outside of your home, being in open spaces).
Obsessive-compulsive disorder, characterized by one or both:
Involuntary, time-consuming preoccupation with intrusive, unwanted thoughts; or
Repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety.
Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning (see 12.00F):
Understand, remember, or apply information (see 12.00E1).
Interact with others (see 12.00E2).
Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace (see 12.00E3).
Adapt or manage oneself (see 12.00E4).
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 (see 12.00G2b); 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 (see 12.00G2c).
Once you have your documentation in order, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Disability is there for you as a way to live and survive with this debilitating disorder.