Patients who have experienced a trauma in their life resulting from an accident, injury, sexual abuse or rape, death, experienced a natural disaster, military trauma, incarceration or have had a serious medical experience such as a heart attack and may be suffering from Post Trauma Stress Disorder (PTSD) may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. While stress can cause depression and anxiety, stress alone is not a qualifying factor for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. That is why it is important for mental health care workers to make the right diagnosis and prescribe the proper treatments to their PTSD patients so that they can take advantage of applying for and receiving SSDI benefits.
Mental health care workers can greatly contribute to helping their PTSD patients receive their SSDI benefits by understanding the necessary eligibility requirements under the SSDI program. A list of all qualifying mental disorders can be found on the Social Security Disability Insurance website at http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/12.00-MentalDisorders-Adult.htm#12_06. A patient suffering from PTSD may apply for Social Security Disability benefits by filing a claim with the Social Security Office and obtaining a medical vocation allowance, which means that the person’s PTSD is severe enough to prevent him or her from working at a job or other vocation.
Patients will need to show that they are experiencing the types of symptoms associated with PTSD such as reoccurring and disruptive flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, memories, OCD, phobias, anxiety or stress that interfere with their daily living activities, social life and inability to concentrate. Since a patient’s medical records will determine whether or not they qualify for SSDI, it is important that mental health care workers and physicians provide documented proof from the beginning of a patient’s diagnosis of PTSD as well as the types of episodes that trigger PTSD, the duration of the episode and frequency, symptoms associated with the episodes, what worsens the patient’s condition and affects the patient’s ability to function at home and or work.
Military service members who became disabled after October 1, 2001, can receive expedited SSDI benefits, which are different from VA benefits, regardless of where their disability occurs, by applying through the Social Security Disability Insurance Wounded Warriors Program. Information about the Wounded Warrior Program can be found at the Social Security website at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/woundedwarriors/.
If you are psychiatrist treating a veteran for PTSD that was disabled prior to October 1, 2001, your patient may be entitled to VA disability benefits. In order to help the patient obtain VA disability benefits, you will need to have the patient undergo an evaluation at a VA medical facility and provide a diagnosis of PTSD. The veteran must also apply for VA disability benefits, which can be done by telephone, online at the Veterans Online Application website (VONAPP) at www.ebenefits.va.gov or by completing the VA Form 21-526 and submitting it to the VA for process.
Educating your PTSD patients about the benefits they may be entitled to under Social Security Disability Insurance of VA disability benefits can help improve their lives and their recovery by taking away some of their financial stress and concerns about not being able to work and hold down a job and support themselves and their family. For more information about Social Security Disability Insurance and PTSD, please contact us today.