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Posttraumatic stress disorder develops in response to traumatic events involving injury and death or the threat of these outcomes. This disorder physically alters the brain and can give rise to symptoms such as flashbacks, avoidance and impaired cognition. Sadly, this debilitating disorder is common among military servicemembers, as any disability lawyers in Chicago know. Research indicates that one out of five veterans struggle with severe PTSD.

Toll of PTSD

According to RAND Corporation research, at least 20 percent of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. Some of these veterans also suffer from depression. Alarmingly, other studies estimate even higher rates, especially in the long term.

Determining the prevalence of PTSD can be challenging for a few reasons. Some reports focus on veterans diagnosed with PTSD within a year of returning home. However, the disorder may take much longer to manifest. Similarly, other cases of PTSD may go entirely undetected and untreated.

The RAND Corporation reports that half of veterans with known cases of PTSD don’t seek treatment. Sadly, out of those who pursue help, only half receive appropriate treatment. As a result, many veterans live with disabling cases of PTSD.

Help available

The effects of PTSD may undermine a veteran’s ability to handle various everyday tasks. PTSD victims also may face a heightened risk of substance use disorders, depression, suicide and physical health problems. Given these issues, veterans afflicted with PTSD may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

The Social Security Administration automatically recognizes PTSD as disabling if it causes specific symptoms and limitations. Veterans must document one of the following:

  • Anxiety accompanied by specific behaviors, such as hyperarousal or scanning
  • Debilitating weekly panic attacks
  • Enduring, irrational fear that results in avoidance behaviors
  • Distressing, disruptive flashbacks
  • Repeated fixations or compulsions that cause personal distress

Besides these symptoms, PTSD victims must document two severe functional limitations, as disability lawyers in Chicago could confirm. These include episodes of decompensation, difficulty functioning socially, limited ability to perform daily activities or difficulty concentrating to finish tasks.

Veterans who cannot satisfy these criteria may still be eligible for medical-vocational allowances. In either case, veterans must provide full medical documentation to support their claims. This documentation includes a doctor’s evaluation and a description of a typical anxiety attack.

Expedited assistance

Disabled veterans may qualify for faster SSD claim processing. Veterans who have received VA compensation ratings of “100% P&T” receive expedited processing. The SSA also makes this service available to veterans injured on or during active duty after October 1, 2001. However, faster processing doesn’t guarantee claim approval, as any disability lawyers in Chicago could attest. Proper documentation is still crucial for disabled veterans.