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Getting Disability For PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, happens after witnessing or going through a traumatic event involving injury or death. Though most of us think of soldiers when talking about PTSD, the majority of PTSD sufferers are actually victims or witnesses of car accidents. PTSD causes recurrent flashback episodes and nightmares that can disrupt every day activities. Some forms of PTSD including hyper-vigilance, extreme fear of the event recurring, a tendency to be easily startled, and anger or irritability.

Unlike simple shock or stress, the body and brain chemistry can be altered with post-traumatic stress disorder. Those with this disorder will show high levels of catecholamine and a low level of cortisol in their urine and a decrease in the volume of the hippocampus, a part of the frontal lobe of the brain. Due to these changes in the brain and body, PSTD is a serious condition that can greatly effect an individual’s ability to function.

There is no cure to post-traumatic stress disorder and cases can vary greatly in severity, symptoms, and possible triggers. However, there are several treatments and medications used to make this disorder more manageable to live with. Treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder may involve counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, antidepressant drugs, antipsychotic medications, or a combination of one or more of these treatments.

Disability for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Disability claims for PTSD can be approved by disability claims examiners in two separate ways. The first route for approval is for individuals whose medical records satisfy the requirements of Social Security’s disability listing on anxiety-related disorders. The second way is to get a “medical-vocational allowance”. This may sound like it is an exception, but it is actually a much more common way for SSD and SSI disability claims to get approved.

Satisfying the SSA listing with PTSD

In order to meet the requirement of the anxiety listing, you must have disruptive flashbacks, nightmares, or memories that regularly cause you “marked distress”, which means that you suffer from near-extreme anxiety or emotional disturbance. The “marked distress” must interfere with your daily activities, social life, and ability of concentrate. Other ways to qualify under the anxiety listing is to have the required symptoms for OCD, panic attacks, phobias, or generalized anxiety due to your PTSD.

Getting a medical-vocational allowance with PTSD

To be considered for a medical-vocational allowance, the disability claims examiner must determine that you will not be awarded benefits on the basis of meeting anxiety listing requirements, but that the symptoms of your condition are severe enough to prevent you from working. Those individuals with PTSD often have fatigue from poor sleep, trouble concentrating, and memory problems, all of which can interfere with their ability to work or maintain a job.

Medical Evidence Needed for PTSD

Information in your medical records is vital to the processing of a SSDI or SSI disability claim. So what exactly should your mental records say about your condition? There should be a least one detailed description of a typical episode of PTSD, including the duration and frequency of any panic attacks and what triggers worsening symptoms. Your doctor should also make sure to include whether your description of your symptoms matches their opinion of your mental state. Most importantly, your medical record should also include how your PTSD symptoms effect your ability to function both at home and at work.