Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious condition that can suddenly increase anxiety, fear, paranoia, and aggression in those who suffer from it. Although commonly associated with combat trauma in veterans, PTSD can affect anyone as a result of a traumatic experience.
PTSD covers a wide variety of symptoms and can vary in severity from minor to extreme. Extreme cases can affect a person’s ability to function in society and greatly disrupt his ability to work. Considering the effects, the Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes extreme cases of PTSD as eligible for disability benefits. However, in order to be approved, you must be able to show persuasive documentation supporting how and why your condition prevents you from working. If Social Security does not find your evidence compelling, they will deny your claim. Therefore, whether you’re submitting a new claim or appealing a denied claim, it’s important to know what to include and how to present it to get your claim approved.
Required Documentation and Persuasive Evidence
One of the most common errors people make when filing a disability claim is failing to provide adequate proof of why they require benefits. To prove your need, you must be able to show your limitations through the following pieces of documentation:
- Medical records. The first things the SSA reviewers will look for are documents verifying your condition and its severity. Records of inpatient or outpatient psychiatric treatment, doctor or clinic notes, and medical diagnoses are all forms that should be included in your claim. Additional records, such as brain scans and X-ray images can be included to rule out physical injuries and support the PTSD claim.
- Employer statements. Social Security will also require proof that your condition limits your ability to work. A statement from a former employer discussing the effects of your PTSD can go a long way in convincing Social Security that you’re an unreliable employee. This statement should include observations of disruptive behavior, missed work, and an inability to finish tasks.
- Police or military reports. Providing details of the cause of your PTSD will not only increase SSA's understanding of your condition, but it will also increase empathy.
- Symptom and effect records. A detailed record of how your PTSD episodes occur, as well as examples of your reactions, can aid in illustrating the severity of your condition.
- Residual Functional Capacity form. An "RFC" is a letter written on your behalf or a questionnaire completed by an attending physician, psychologist, or therapist. The letter (or questionnaire) is a medical source statement that addresses key attributes of your condition - your diagnosis and especially the extent of your resulting limitations - as well as your ability to function. It also includes the professional opinion of the writer, backed by medical science, on the existence and degree of your limitations so that the decision maker, the Administrative Law Judge, can decide whether you meet the qualifications for PTSD or if you’re capable of sustaining a job.
- Family and friend observations. Personal observations of your behavior written by friends and family can also be helpful in showing your limitations and social weaknesses.
Filing Your Claim
Now that you know what you need, how do you get it? You may be able to request copies of your medical records and ask your previous employers for statements. However, to ensure your claim has the best chance of succeeding, you should consider engaging an experienced disability attorney. John L. Keefe has focused his law career on helping those who are unable to work build strong disability claims. After 20 plus years of processing, gathering evidence, and filing claims for disability with Social Security, he is well seasoned in exactly what to do and what not to do for an approval. Call our office today to schedule your FREE case review. We’re waiting to help rebuild your PTSD claim so you can start focusing on your condition, rather than on how to pay your bills.