PTSD can be a Severe and Disabling Impairment

by Editorial Board on August 6, 2010 · 0 comments

in Mental Conditions

Post image for PTSD can be a Severe and Disabling Impairment

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is term many are now familiar with in connection with troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and it has long held a crippling presence in the lives of Vietnam War Veterans. PTSD is a mental disorder brought on by extreme stress or life threatening experiences.

PTSD has been officially recognized since 1980, but in terms of combat experiences it has been acknowledged for many years. In the past, it was labeled as ‘combat stress,’ ‘combat fatigue,’ ‘shell shock,’ or‘battle fatigue.’ During the Vietnam War, many sufferers were recognized by what was called ‘The Thousand Yard Stare,’ having become detached from the reality of their situation.

The condition is not limited to military experience and can be brought on by other stressful events people experience in civilian life as well, such as urban violence, domestic violence, rape, and racism. Those who experience trauma usually return to a normal mental state after a short period of adjustment, but others may take longer. PTSD is usually evident within a few months of the trigger experience but for some it may take years to develop.

If treatment for this disorder is not undertaken in a timely manner, it can become a very serious and debilitating condition, and in extreme cases lead to self harm or harm to others. The symptoms include a detachment from everyday reality, flashbacks and bad dreams, alcoholism, hyper-vigilance, self destructive behavior, and extreme anger.

PTSD need not be a condition that prevents a sufferer from working. In fact, with modern counseling techniques, mental stimulation, and anti-depressive medication, the vast majority of sufferers will be able to function normally—as long as it is detected in time and treated. Early diagnosis is a very important part of PTSD treatment.

For those who suffer extreme conditions of this stress disorder, keeping a job may not be possible.  Many who try to work with severe PTSD find it very hard to hold keep a job for very long. Fortunately, the US Government’s Social Security Disability program recognizes the condition as a serious one, and one that may warrant disability payments when certain criteria are met.

Under the SSD program, a sufferer must prove that they are not able to return to their previous work AND they must also prove that they are not able to undertake alternative employment. To qualify based on the listing in the “blue book”, the Social Security Administration’s list of impairments, the sufferer must meet two of three listed criteria.

The first criteria relates to the mental symptoms themselves such as flashbacks and nightmares. The second relates to the social function of the sufferer, such as detachment and concentration span. The final criterion is defined as an ‘inability to function independently outside the home’.  If the first and second criteria are met, or the first and third criteria are met, then a PTSD sufferer is said to meet the listing.

Read the listing at 12.06 in SSA’s Blue Book to investigate these elements in more detail.  If you meet or equal a listed impairment you have a good chance of winning Social Security Disability benefits.  Even if you do not meet or equal a listing you could still win disability benefits if you can show you would not be able to sustain employment because of the limitations placed on you from your medical impairment.

Post a comment below to share your thoughts on this subject or ask us a question, we encourage you to be part of the Living with a Disability community.

Previous post:

Next post:

Leave a Comment