Benefits give people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) financial independence. Despite 6% of the US population experiencing PTSD during their lifetimes, it’s not always easy for them to claim benefits. It was recently revealed that among historic benefit claims from veterans, black veterans were more likely to be rejected than white veterans. So, if you’re living with PTSD, how do you ensure you get the benefits you’re entitled to?
Get a professional diagnosis
To qualify for benefits due to your PTSD, you need to be professionally diagnosed. A psychiatrist or psychologist will usually give a diagnosis. To be diagnosed with PTSD, you’ll need to have the following symptoms for at least one month:
- At least one re-experiencing symptom
- At least one avoidance symptom
- At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms
- At least two cognition and mood symptoms
Be prepared to appeal
Even after receiving a diagnosis of PTSD, there’s a good chance that your application for benefits will be denied. Almost 80% of 1st time SSI and SSDI claims are rejected. You mustn’t give up at this point. Instead, appeal your SSI decision by going to court. It’s best to have a Social Security Disability attorney on your side. You’ll also get to present additional evidence to back up your claim. Be prepared to testify and give information on how your PTSD affects your daily life too. This may sound daunting, but allowing the judge to fully understand your disability will ensure that you get the benefits that you’re owed.
Get supporting evidence
Having supporting evidence to submit with your claim for benefits or to use in court can help you qualify. You could get someone you live with, a close friend, a colleague, or a doctor to write a statement detailing how your life has been impacted by PTSD. It’s important that any supporting evidence you get is detailed and explains your condition in full. Not everyone understands PTSD, as was demonstrated by a recent survey which found that 11% of people don’t know if PTSD is treatable. So, make sure your SSI assessor or the judge in your appeal case gets all the facts from you.
Do a benefit entitlement check
There are various ways to get benefits for PTSD. You also need to do your homework and make sure you apply for everything you’re eligible for. If you don’t feel up to this, speak to a local disability attorney. If your PTSD stems from the workplace, you could claim via your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance or social security. Whereas, veterans with PTSD should claim through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. If your circumstances change after you start receiving benefits, check the Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST). After filling in some details, it will provide you with a list of further help that you could receive.
PTSD is a complex disability for which many people find it hard to get awarded benefits. But with persistence and the right documentation and support, you can be sure you’ll get the benefits that you deserve.
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I'm Alice and I live with a dizzying assortment of invisible disabilities, including ADHD and fibromyalgia. I write to raise awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental and chronic illnesses of all kinds.