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Social Security Disability Insurance Claims and PTSD

According to a recent article in the LA Times, the influx of disability claims related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is leading to a variety of problems.

medicaldoctor.jpgThe article follows a 49-year-old man who explains he is so plagued by paranoia when in a crowded situation that he must carry a gun to feel secure. Due to his frequent nightmares and Iraq War flashbacks, he is afraid he might accidentally shoot someone. The psychiatrist evaluating the claimant is skeptical and believes the veteran is exaggerating his PTSD symptoms to get benefits. While these symptoms track exactly to the PTSD guidelines, the administration doctor asserted very few people truly have as many symptoms as this claimant.

As your Boston Social Security Disability Insurance lawyer can explain, it is very difficult to get SSDI benefits for a mental disability without an accompanying physical illness. The Social Security Administration looks to the claimant’s total level of disability. For example, a claimant who has lost an arm may not qualify for benefits, nor would a claimant who is solely suffering from depression, unless it is especially severe. However, a claimant who has lost an arm and suffers from depression would have a greater chance of qualifying.

PTSD claims are difficult to diagnose and assess, according to psychiatrists. Doctors interviewed for the article stated some patients could be completely disabled by the same set of symptoms that will barely upset another patient. Additionally, some doctors say some patients exaggerate symptoms or make up the condition entirely to get disability benefits.

This ambiguity has allowed the Social Security Administration (SSA) to deny a large number of PTSD claimsl. The agency denies most claims, but claims for illnesses that are more difficult to diagnose are even more likely to be rejected.
While it is, of course, possible that some claimants are exaggerating their symptoms to get benefits, most are not. Unfortunately, the existence of online forums that detail what claimants should say to evaluators to get a PTSD diagnosis does not help the situation. Allegedly, these forums tell people to never sit with their backs to the door and say they have considered killing someone.

Interestingly, while the number of PTSD claims has increased, it is still difficult for many SSDI attorneys to get their clients to admit they may be suffering from depression and other mental illnesses and seek a diagnosis. Many people have no problem admitting to a back problem or other physical ailment, but are concerned about possible stigmas associated with mental illness.

The best thing you can do to get the SSDI benefits you deserve is to get an attorney as early in the process as possible and be completely open and honest with your lawyer about both your physical and mental conditions rendering you unable to work. With as much information as possible, your attorney will be in the best position to get you a favorable result from the SSA.

If you or are seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

As disability awards grow, so do concerns with veracity of PTSD claims, August 4, 2014, LA Times

More Blog Entries:

Funding Road Construction on the Backs of the Disabled, July 16, 2014, Boston Social Security Disability Lawyers Blog