Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a problem that we usually think of as afflicting our young people who come back from the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. However, the causes of PTSD are not confined to war zones. The National Institute of Mental Health defines (PTSD) as, “a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.”
“Shocking, scaring or dangerous events” happen every day in the United States. Most people, after a reasonable amount of time, recover from the trauma. However, some people are exposed to such traumatic events that they have difficulty “getting over it.” If you have been a victim of domestic violence as an adult or child, a horrific automobile accident victim, witnessed or have been the victim of a shooting, or any extremely upsetting event, you may have PTSD. Also, PTSD is not always caused by a violent event. The death of a loved one can trigger PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD
The first thing to remember, PTSD is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. You are a survivor. However, you may still need help. Some of the symptoms of PTSD include unfounded anxiety, depression, and being easily startled. The National Institute of Mental Health provides a list of the symptoms and treatments that are available for people who suffer from PTSD.
PTSD can make it difficult, if not impossible, for a person to keep a job. The fear and anxiety associated with PTSD affect relationships at home and at work. Also, depression, sleeplessness, and flashbacks of the traumatic event can cause an inability to concentrate and carry out workday assignments.
Imagine how a nurse who suffered from PTSD would be affected. Suppose a young lady, Tamera, was in an automobile accident. Tamera was smart, beautiful, and energetic. She was in her third year of working at a Georgia hospital emergency room.
During Thanksgiving weekend, Tamera decided to drive to her parents’ home to spend the holiday with them. As she was driving down the road, her thoughts were focused on all the things she had to do when she returned back home. Suddenly, she saw an oncoming car cross over into her lane. The two cars collided head-on. Tamera screamed as she watched the flames coming from underneath her car. She realized that she was trapped when she saw the police working diligently to her release her from the mangled metal.
After several months in the hospital with internal injuries and broken bones, Tamara’s physical injuries healed. When she returned to her job as an emergency room nurse, the sight of injured people caused flashbacks to her own accident. She was anxious and unsure of herself. Often she would break down and start crying for no apparent reason. Consequently, she could no longer work effectively as a nurse. The staff at the hospital tried to help her, but she was too badly hurt from the psychological injury of the accident. In the end, the hospital had to relieve her of her responsibilities because she had become a threat to patient care.
Tamera realized she needed long-term treatment and care. She was getting help from a mental health professional, but she was not well enough to return to work. She had to face the difficulties of PTSD and also worry about how to pay her rent, utilities and to buy food.
Can I Get Social Security Disability Benefits For Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in Georgia?
Help is available for people who have long-term disabilities. The United States Social Security Administration (SSA) states, “Social Security will pay disability benefits to a person who cannot work due to a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or results in death.” Mental health conditions are considered medical issues.
“Listing Of Impairments”
The SSA has developed a set of rules to determine if you qualify as disabled and are unable to work due to PTSD. These rules include the most common impairments related to PTSD. They are referred to as the “Listing of Impairments” and are found under Section 12.00 Mental Disorders. The Listing includes the following medically diagnosable impairments:
- Organic mental disorder
- Schizophrenic, paranoid and other psychotic disorders
- Affective disorders
- Intellectual disability
- Anxiety-related disorders
- Somatoform disorders
- Personality disorders
- Substance addiction disorders
- Autistic disorder and other pervasive developmental disorders
Generally, PTSD would fall under the anxiety-related disorder impairment.
How Do I Apply For Disability Benefits?
Good documentation with substantial medical evidence usually provides enough information to prove the severity of the disability. Since PTSD generally falls under anxiety-related disorder, it is essential that you provide medical documentation regarding your anxiety reactions and should include a description of your typical reaction. The description should contain information regarding the nature, frequency, and duration of any panic attacks or other reactions, the precipitating and exacerbating factors, and the functional effects.
Once all of the forms have been completed and submitted to the SSA, you have completed the first process, referred to as the Initial Determination. You will receive a letter from the SSA that tells you whether you have been approved or denied for disability benefits.
What Do I Do If I Have Been Denied?
You received the letter from the SSA and it says that you have been denied. Don’t panic, and don’t give up. There are several routes of appeal. If you are turned down when you file your initial application, which frequently occurs, do not give up. Next move is to file an appeal for Reconsideration Determination. If this is denied, you can file for a hearing. If denied at the hearing, you can appeal to the Appeals Council. When all has failed, you can appeal it in federal court.
Most people that file for Social Security disability benefits give up and quit before they ever get to the hearing phase. Do not give up, many appeals are granted at the hearing. Often, the persistent person is the one who gets the disability payments.
HELP IS AVAILABLE
It is always good to have a professional helping you who is experienced and knowledgeable about the disability process. Do not give up. Document your injuries and how they affect your job performance. Consult with a professional early in the process.