POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER WINS DISABILITY BENEFITS
WHAT IS POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. PTSD can occur in response to a wide range of traumatic experiences. For example, it can occur due combat, sexual or physical assault, natural disasters, accidents, or other events.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 7.7 million adults in the United States (around 3.5% of the adult population) have experienced PTSD in a given year. Individuals with PTSD may also experience other mental health conditions such as anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, and physical health problems.
For most people who experience trauma, like a car accident or a fire, fear of the event is over quickly. PTSD symptoms, however, persist for more than a month and can impact your ability to work. It’s important to note that not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF PTSD
Some common symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder include:
- Intrusive memories: Recurrent memories of the trauma. Often people feel like there are experience the event again, even if they are having a normal day. Or, perhaps they hear a sound or smell a certain smell and thoughts and images of the trauma come to mind without warning.
- Avoidance: Avoiding the places, activities, or people who remind you of the trauma. People may also avoid talking to others about the event. For example, my grandfather was a soldier in World War I and World War II and when asked, he refused to discuss his experiences during the wars.
- Negative thoughts: Negative thoughts and beliefs, feelings of not wanting to be around others, trouble experiencing positive emotions, and having no interest in activities once enjoyed. For example, a person with PTSD may have feelings of guilt or shame. Also, they may feel hopeless about the future. Additionally, they may believe that they cannot feel their emotions.
- Hyperarousal: Increased anger, trouble sleeping, nightmares, being constantly on guard, quick startle response, and lack of focus.
WHO EXPERIENCES POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER?
Although Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is known to occur to Veterans who experience the trauma of war. Many people can have this disease, even if they are not Veterans. Those who experience violence, such as spousal abuse, physical abuse, or sexual abuse, can also have PTSD.
Service members who deploy to war zones and experience the threat of death, can have PTSD. Also, those who come under attack or experience the death of fellow soldiers may have PTSD symptoms. However, even service members who were not in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan, can struggle with PTSD.
Military personnel, policeman, fireman, or volunteers may also experience trauma in training exercises. Or they can experience trauma on the job. Imagine the trauma that can come from protecting students against an active shooter. Likewise, imagine the trauma that came from responding to the attack on Pentagon or the Twin Towers on 9-11. We have all heard or seen heroic individuals who suffer from PTSD after these tragic events.
There are dramatic stories of PTSD from those who have military jobs and police jobs. But PTSD symptoms can also come from violence in the home. For example, abuse can occur from a parent to a child. Or, it can occur between partners in a marriage relationship. PTSD is more common than people realize. The mental symptoms from PTSD can prevent your from working. Because, they stop you from being a responsible employee.
SSDI & SSI BENEFITS YOU APPLY FOR WITH PTSD
Below, please find an explanation as to each type of benefit you can apply for if you have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:
SSDI benefits are for those who have worked in the recent past and can no longer work at any job due to a medical condition. The amount of money you will receive from SSDI benefits every month is based on the Social Security tax you paid during your work history. To qualify for SSDI, you must have earned enough “work credits.”
A work credit is an amount of taxable income. You can earn up to 4 work credits per year, as there are 4 quarters in a year. The amount of work credits you will need will depend on how old you are when you apply. If you haven’t earned enough work credits for your age at the time you apply, you can only apply for Supplemental Security Income benefits.
SSI is needs based program for those people with very little income, such as children and the elderly. Anyone who makes more than a certain amount of money per month cannot file for SSI benefits. As an adult, if you are married and filing an SSI application for PTSD, the income of your spouse will determine whether you can be paid benefits.
You cannot qualify for SSI benefits, no matter how severe your medical condition, if you do not meet the income and asset rules of the program.
POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER SYMPTOMS CAN BE DISABLING
The SSA issued mental Listing 12.15 for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). If you or your loved ones are experiencing PTSD and cannot work, Cannon Disability Law can help. Listing 12.15 contains the elements that you must prove to show your PTSD deserves benefits. Listing 12.15 is below:
12.15 Trauma and stressor related disorders, satisfied by A and B, or A and C:
- Medical records for of all of the following:
- Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or violence;
- Subsequent involuntary reexperiencing of the traumatic event (for example, intrusive memories, dreams, or flashbacks);
- Avoidance of external reminders of the event;
- Disturbance in mood and behavior; and
- Increases in arousal and reactivity (for example, exaggerated startle response, sleep disturbance).
- Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning:
- Your mental condition in this area 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 supports, or a highly structured settings that is ongoing and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of your mental condition; 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.
POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER IS A COMMON MEDICAL CONDITION
Believe it or not, there are many people with PTSD. The number of Social Security applications due to PTSD has tripled in the last 10 years. In 2008, there were around 345,000 cases filed. In 2018, there were more than 940,000 cases filed.
Likewise, service-connected PTSD benefits now make up 22 percent of all benefits due to Veterans. This means there are many Veterans who need help with this mental condition. If you need to learn more information about how to get both veteran benefits and SSDI benefit for PTSD, read here.
The following is a list of resources for Veterans to get help with PTSD:
Find a Therapist and Get Treatment for Your Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Get Help in a Crisis
The National Center for PTSD provides links and information to help you locate VA and other mental health services in your area.
- Find a Therapist
Describes types of professionals who provide therapy and medication for PTSD and trauma issues.
- Self-Help and Coping
Find out what to expect after a trauma and about self help tools that can help you manage stress reactions.
Help for Veterans
- Care for Women Veterans
Describes VA services offered to women Veterans, including the Women Veterans Health Care Program.
- PTSD Treatment Programs
Information on treatment for PTSD within VA Medical Centers.
- VA Benefits and Claims
Answers to questions about PTSD and benefits for Veterans. Provides information about resources for treatment.
Additionally, if you are a Veteran getting service-connected payments, then the SSA may find you should be paid Social Security benefits. They will also give you a faster processing time. This is called expedited review.
The SSA system is very different than the VA rating system, mostly because the SSA does not use a rating system. Under the SSA system, it is all or nothing. You either are totally disabled or you are not. Despite those differences, you can apply for both benefits. You can apply for SSDI benefits online at the Social Security website.
POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER BEHAVIORS
PTSD behaviors that you can look for in yourself or others:
- RELIVING TRAUMA. Returning service members may re-live their military trauma. For example, they may have nightmares of certain events. Also, they may have flashbacks where they feel like you are going through the trauma again. Often, Veterans or those who have suffered abuse may have reactions to specific triggers, such as smells, hearing loud noises, or seeing certain people. These events cause a person to relive their past trauma.
- AVOIDING CERTAIN SITUATIONS. If you have PTSD, you may avoid other people. Likewise, you may avoid situations or places that remind you of your past trauma. You may try to avoid talking or thinking about your trauma. Also, you may avoid situations that make you feel unsafe. Some people try to stay busy or deny their mental condition.
- SYMPTOMS SIMILAR TO DEPRESSION. PTSD may make you stay away from close relationships, even with members of your family. Because of feelings of fear or trauma, you may not want to leave your home or go anywhere you don’t feel safe. You may feel you cannot trust others. Likewise, your PTSD symptoms can be similar to depression symptoms. For example, you may have trouble with your memory and your ability to concentrate. Also, you may struggle to sleep through the night. All of these mental symptoms may impact your ability to work a full time job.
TREATMENT FOR POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
Treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder usually requires a combination of therapy, medications, and self help. Here are some common treatments for PTSD:
- Psychotherapy: Several types of therapy are used to treat PTSD, including:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT therapy helps individuals change negative thoughts and behaviors related to their trauma. It may involve therapy, where the person talks about their memories of trauma in a safe and controlled manner.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR uses eye movement therapy. It aims to help individuals process memories and reduce the emotional impact of trauma.
- Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE): PE slowly exposes individuals to trauma situations and memories to help reduce PTSD symptoms.
- Medications: Medications for anxiety may help manage symptoms of PTSD. Other medications may be used to target nightmares and sleep problems.
- Self Help: Engaging in this form of treatment may help some symptoms of PTSD. This can include maintain health, such as a regular sleep routine and eating a good diet. Other options include trying to get rid of stress. For example, this would include deep breathing, yoga, and other stress relief activity.
- Supportive Relationships: Having a strong support system and positive relationships can be crucial in the recovery process. Connecting with understanding individuals provides empathy and a sense of safety.
FREE AND LOW COST THERAPY FOR PTSD
In order to win benefits for mental health, then you need treatment. There are many free and low cost treatment options in Utah. The best thing you can do for your PTSD case is to seek ongoing treatment. Treatment includes medication, talk therapy, and the care of a doctor who is expert in PTSD. Ongoing treatment means you visit your counselor and doctor once a week or twice a month.
Nevada’s resources also include medical care, low cost mental health services, and low cost mental clinics. If you need a doctor or counselor and don’t have money, then there are resources for you. On our website we have a list of free and low cost mental health services in Nevada.
Additionally, on our website we have a list of free mental health services in Idaho and we also have a list of free and low cost mental health services in Colorado. Every state has some form of free and low cost services for those with PTSD. Call and ask if they will work with you so that you can get treatment.
PTSD AND YOUR RESIDUAL FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY
If you don’t meet or equal listing 12.15, then you can still win benefits if your PTSD impairs your residual functional capacity (RFC). Your RFC is SSA’s finding of what you can physically do in a work setting, considering your symptoms.
Your RFC includes your physical limits. In terms of physical limits, the SSA tries to define your ability to sit, stand, walk, and lift, during the course of an 8 hour workday. Likewise, the SSA will include your ability to carry, pull, and push. It includes your ability to kneel, crouch, crawl, and go up and down stairs.
Also, the SSA will consider your fatigue from doing activities. The SSA also includes your mental health in your RFC. Find out more about how the SSA defines work here. A limited RFC proves you cannot work.
In order to figure out your physical RFC, the SSA will read your medical records. They will take into account what your doctor says about you mental and physical health in your medical records. Additionally, the SSA has their own doctors that can review your medical records.
These doctors work for DDS, the state agency who reviews all SSD cases. The SSA will take the medical opinion of these doctors into account too. Likewise, if they need more information, they may send you to a medical exam at their expense. Learn more here about what to expect at SSA’s doctor exam.
WHAT WE DO TO HELP YOU WIN SSDI AND SSI BENEFITS
If you have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, then you need help to apply for Social Security benefits. You can always call our law firm and we will help you. We can help you file your application. Also, we can help you appeal every SSA denial. For example, our attorneys and staff can:
- Send you the paperwork you need to become our client
- Help you file your application for SSDI and SSI benefits
- Inform the SSA they should pay your benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Rules
- Appeal if you receive an initial denial from DDS
- Help you confirm your free SSA doctor exam
- Request a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Prepare you to testify at your ALJ hearing
- Represent you at your hearing and question the expert witnesses
- Read more about job experts here
- Learn more about medical expert testimony here
- Request review of an SSA decision with the Appeals Council
- Request review of an Appeals Council denial in Federal Court
If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back. If you don’t send it back, then they will not process your application. Sign it and send it back as soon as you can.
IS HIRING OUR LAW FIRM EXPENSIVE?
No. We are not expensive, because we only charge you an attorney fee if we win your case.
It also doesn’t cost you any money to hire us. Why? Because you only pay us an attorney fee if we win your case. This means if we win, then you pay us out of your back benefits. If you do not win, you do not pay an attorney fee. How much is the fee? It is 25% of your back benefit.
Also, there is a fee cap set at $7200 by the SSA. You never pay more than the fee cap at the hearing stage of your case. And, 25% of your back benefit is usually less than the $7200 cap. You will pay the lesser amount between the fee cap and 25% of your back benefit.
If there are costs in your case, like getting medical records, then you pay for those costs. But the costs are usually less than $100. Typically, if a doctor charges for copies of your medical records, then that is your cost.
You will owe the costs in your case whether we win or lose your case. However, your attorney fees come from your back benefit and you pay them only if we win your case.
We will use our skills to help you through the Social Security appeal process. It is our goal to make filing for SSD and SSI benefits easier for you. We offer a free review of your PTSD case. There is no pressure to become a client if you call. Even if we don’t accept your case, we will still try to help you.
WHAT IS THE COST IF YOU DO NOT HIRE US TO WIN PTSD BENEFITS?
What will it cost you if you don’t hire a lawyer with the legal experience to win your benefits? For example, if you win benefits at 50 years old, then you will be paid for the next 17 years. You may also win two of years of past due benefits. Therefore, in this example, if you are 50 years old, you are looking at 19 years of SSD payments.
Nineteen years is is 228 months. At $1200 a month (which is a lower than average monthly benefit amount), that is $273,600. Additionally, you will win a higher retirement benefit after the age of 67. Let’s say the average higher benefit is $300 a month and you live to be 90 years old. That is another $82,800.
It costs 25% of your back benefit OR $7200 from your back benefit to pay your attorney. You pay us whatever is less and only if you win. If we win your case, then we won you $356,400, plus early Medicare benefits. Your attorney will be paid $7200 and you will be paid $349,200.
All attorneys charge the same fee. So, you can go it alone and not hire an attorney, but chances are you will lose $356,400. Or, you can hire an attorney with over 30 years of experience with no money upfront. If you win benefits, then you will pay $7200 out of your back benefit to the lawyer. However, you will also win a grand total of $349,200. The choice is yours. We hope you can see that the cost of a lawyer with over 30 years of legal experience is worth it.
As you can see, Listing 12.15 is a complex law about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It can be hard to understand. We know how to apply this listing to your case. If you are suffering from PTSD and cannot work, then you can win benefits. Contact us now. Seek treatment. With the proper medical records, we can win your SSD case. We will help prove your PTSD to the Social Security Administration. If you prove that you cannot work, then you will be able to replace your income with SSDI benefits.
At our law firm, we offer a free review of your case. We will talk to you about the merits of your case and explain whether or not you have a good chance of winning benefits. Additionally, we will give you advice as to how you can improve your chances of winning benefits. If you need more information about attorney fees, then read here.
Also, we represent clients from many different states. For example, we represent clients in Utah. Find Utah SSD Information here. Nevada SSDI information is also available. We also represent clients in California, Idaho, and Colorado. Learn more about California SSD benefits here. More information can be found about Idaho SSD benefits here. Colorado benefit information is here.
We want to be your legal team. Put our years of experience to work for you. We have won over 20,000 SSDI and SSI cases in the last 30 years. Also, we have won over $100 million in back due benefits for our clients. We have won hundreds of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder cases. Consider our success rate, then contact us for a free review of your case.