Q I have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder ever since I returned from Iraq a year ago. I am now out of the military and am trying to work, but my symptoms often get in the way. Should I tell my employer that I have PTSD, or will I get fired if I do?
Let us begin by saying that you are not required by law to report any disability, including PTSD, to your employer. But if you do, you cannot be fired for sharing this information about yourself.
If you do choose to share your condition, you may be given special consideration, and many employers provide accommodations for workers to help them be more successful on the job.
In fact, if you can continue to work, the National Council on Disability has found that you and others like you actually benefit from working. Employment allows war-related PTSD sufferers to adjust better, have a better self-concept, and rehabilitate more quickly.
That said, you might find any or all of the following challenges in employment. You may:
- Have trouble with memory and/or concentration
- Be more disorganized than normal
- Be tired because of sleep problems
- Have problems relating to co-workers
A supportive employer is usually happy to make accommodations for you, which might include:
- Flexible work schedules and/or job sharing
- Scheduled breaks to avoid becoming too tired or overwhelmed
- Aids such as checklists, timers, and tape recorders to help you remember your tasks and complete them on time
- Mentoring by a co-worker or retired worker
- Understanding and offering a listening ear when you need it
- Encouraging you to continue treatment, even if it interferes with your work hours
- Being realistic about your strengths and limitations and encouraging you
Sometimes, however, a victim of PTSD will find him or herself unable to continue to work and earn a living. If this happens, Massachusetts Social Security disability benefits can provide an answer. Call Keefe Disability Law to explore the option of applying for SSA disability benefits. We can provide a free consultation and help clear up any questions you have.