Disability lawyers in Chicago can assist PTSD victims 

Post-traumatic stress disorder can develop after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. As many disability lawyers in Chicago know, PTSD can be highly disabling. Victims may experience flashbacks, anxiety and emotional changes. They also may develop avoidance behaviors, addictions or systemic health issues. If severe PTSD prevents essential daily activities, including gainful employment, victims may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

Evaluating PTSD

The Social Security Administration categorizes PTSD as an anxiety disorder in the “Blue Book” of impairment listings. If a person proves his or her condition meets Blue Book criteria, the person qualifies for benefits on a medical basis. To satisfy the requirements for the anxiety disorders listing, a person must establish one of the following:

  • Obsessive or compulsive behaviors
  • Severe weekly panic attacks
  • Frequent, disruptive flashbacks resulting in emotional distress
  • Enduring, irrational fear of a place, activity or object that causes avoidance behaviors
  • Anxiety accompanied by all but one of the following: scanning behavior, motor tension, nervous system hyperactivity and feelings of fear or worry

Besides causing one of these symptoms, PTSD must prevent the victim from functioning outside of the home, or it must result in at least two of four limitations. These limitations are worsening episodes of decompensation; difficulty completing tasks because of poor concentration, slow pace or limited persistence; inability to function in social settings; and significant limitations in performing everyday living activities, such as self-care.

Many individuals suffer from PTSD yet fail to meet these terms. These people may qualify for medical-vocational allowances if a disability claims examiner determines the PTSD causes functional limitations that preclude gainful employment.

Documenting mental disorders

Disability lawyers in Chicago often stress the importance of documentation in claims involving mental disorders. People afflicted with PTSD should provide extensive evidence to prove the condition is disabling. Victims should furnish a full treatment record with a description of a typical episode. The SSA requires information on episode length and frequency, factors that trigger the episode and the resulting impairments the victim suffers.

People seeking SSD benefits for PTSD may want to ask a treating professional to complete a Residual Functional Capacity form. This form allows a detailed description of specific limitations the condition causes. For example, the professional could note whether PTSD affects an individual’s ability to work by causing issues with concentration, memory, decision-making or social behavior.

Applicants can further support their claims with statements from other sources. Disability lawyers in Chicago can explain that such statements are not substitutes for professional evaluations. However, descriptions of social or functional limitations from friends, co-workers and family members can strengthen a claim involving an anxiety disorder.