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Does Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Qualify Me for Social Security Disability?

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, causes anxiety due to a traumatic event. You can get PTSD from either watching or experiencing a traumatic event. People living with PTSD experience horror, intense fear, or helplessness. PTSD is often associated with war veterans or someone who served in some type of combat. However, it can also be the result of traumatic experiences in people with no military background. For example, childhood abuse or rape can trigger PTSD.

Some people have PTSD so severely that they are unable to hold down a job. Understandably, if that is your situation, you want to know whether you can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. Provided your criteria meet the guidelines set forth by the Social Security Administration (SSA), then yes, you could be eligible for benefits. You need to speak with an experienced Orlando Social Security Disability attorney to understand what benefits may be available to you.

Social Security’s 5-Step Process

The Social Security Administration uses a five-step process to determine qualifications for disability benefits under SSDI. These are:

  • Non-Medical Criteria (Step One): SSA will require that you are not working above a Substantial, Gainful Activity (SGA) level. The current level is no more than $1,260 per month (pre-tax).
  • Severe Impairment (Step Two): This is where the SSA will look at whether your symptoms are severe. They will look at all your medical documentation and evidence submitted. Getting assistance from an experienced Orlando Social Security Disability benefits attorney at this level is crucial.
  • Medical Listings (Step Three): The SSA will look at whether your chronic pain equals or meets a medical listing under their “Listing of Impairments.”
  • Past Work (Step Four): The fourth step is to decide whether you can complete the work you did in the past. This determination is calculated by looking at your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) level. This level is what your mind and body can do after taking your medical symptoms into account. Once they have your RFC calculated, they look at your past relevant work before the PTSD onset date. It is then classified, and the adjudicator will decide whether you can perform any of your past work.
  • Other Work (Step Five): This step looks at whether you can perform other work. This type of work doesn’t have to be the same as the work you completed in the past, either.

The five-step process is far more detailed than we’ve discussed here, which is why you should meet with an Orlando Social Security Disability attorney.

Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD symptoms can start as early as a few months after the event, although other people find their symptoms begin much later. Maybe something triggers a memory of the event, or you suffer another stressful situation that brings it on. Some of the symptoms you might experience include:

  • Reliving the event, or flashbacks
  • Memory problems or difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep disruption
  • Avoidance
  • Anger or irritability
  • Feeling numb or hopeless
  • Hallucinations
  • Easily frightened or startled
  • Self-destructive behavior

Contact a Florida Social Security Disability Benefits Attorney

If you need assistance with filing a Social Security Disability benefits claim for PTSD, contact an Orlando Social Security Disability attorney at the Law Offices of Shea A. Fugate, P.A., to schedule an initial consultation.


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