The brave men and women who serve in our armed forces put a lot on the line. They agree to be removed from their families for significant periods of time as they seek to protect our country and those in other parts of the world, and as a result they’re often subjected to serious injuries that can reshape the way in which they live their lives. Although many of those injuries are physical in nature, many veterans experience mental health issues, too.
Veterans and post-traumatic stress disorder
One of the most common mental health diagnoses given to war veterans is post-traumatic stress disorder. The onset of this condition is usually brought about by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event, which is all too common in the military. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, difficulty sleeping, irritability and outbursts of anger, as well as feelings of guilt and blame.
Although many veterans are able to receive effective treatment for their PTSD that enables them to live as normal of a life as possible, others face such a severe impact that they’re unable to work and function normally in their day-to-day living.
Disability benefits may be available
Fortunately, those who suffer from the most extreme forms of PTSD may be able to recover Social Security disability benefits to help them achieve financial stability as they focus on their treatment. These benefits aren’t just automatically given upon presentation of a PTSD diagnosis, though, which is why it may be helpful for you to understand the disability evaluation process.
How is PTSD evaluated for disability purposes?
Every condition that qualifies for disability benefits has its own requirements that have to be met. Although PTSD isn’t specifically identified by the government as a qualifying condition, trauma and stress-related disorders are recognized.
Therefore, in order to qualify for disability benefits under this category, you have to present evidence that demonstrates that you meet certain criteria. There are two ways to do this. The first is to demonstrate that you have five identified characteristics, which include:
- Exposure to realized or threatened death, serious injury, or violence
- Involuntary flashbacks
- Avoidance of things that remind you of the experience
- Your mood is affected by the condition
- Your reactions are heightened, and you’re more easily startled
In addition, you’ll have to show that your condition extremely limits your ability to interact with others, remember or understand information, concentrate, or manage yourself.
The second way that you can qualify for benefits is by demonstrating that your condition has persisted for at least two years and that you receive ongoing treatment that diminishes the condition’s effects and that you continue to have difficulty adapting to changes in your environment.
Proving your disability claim
As you can see, there are a lot of things that you have to prove in order to demonstrate that you qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The sad reality, too, is that many applicants have their initial claims denied because they fail to gather the evidence that they need to speak to each of these requirements.
Don’t let that happen to you. An attorney who is experienced in this area of the law can help you gather the evidence that you need to strongly position your claim for success. That’s why you might find it beneficial to discuss your circumstances with an attorney who is versed in this area of the law. That way, you can figure out the best path forward with your claim and can maximize your chances of recovering the benefits that you need to focus on living your life and receiving the treatment that you need.