7 Important Questions about PTSD and Social Security Disability Claims

You bet it does!  Though it comes down to the severity and how PTSD presents on a daily basis. 

We’ve covered the chances of you getting a successful claim through the initial filing process before, and I suspect that some of the reason this question gets asked is that it seems mental health challenges are often mischaracterized in disability reports. 

To assess the situation from a holistic perspective consider the following five questions.

How are you sleeping?  

If the answer is anything other than, “I get a decent amount of sleep”  .. then, you, me, and everyone (SSI/SSDI) needs to know why?

Are you having nightmares, insomnia, lack of consistency, where are you sleeping?  Do you need special equipment to sleep?  A fan for white noise, the TV turned on, a CPAP machine.

Bottom line, if PTSD is causing trouble sleeping or being made worse by lack of sleep, it has an impact on your health and employability in many different areas.

What motivates you?

It seems a basic question, but this is something that cuts straight to the heart of PTSD and other mental health challenges.

Are you distant, non-connected, ambivalent towards goals?  Are you hyper-focused on a certain subject?

Any of these could be “normal” in the right circumstances, but experiencing PTSD can change the balance of “normal” for anyone.

What do you do for recreation?

This doesn’t necessarily mean, “what do you do for fun,” but you can think about it like that.

If you can’t really answer this question then ask yourself what did you do in the past for recreation?  Did you find it enjoyable or fun then?  Do you do it now, and if you do, do you get enjoyment from it?

Many times with PTSD a fear of social engagement, or triggers, will cause people to stop doing activities they once found enjoyable.  If you can’t engage in recreation, or other enjoyable activity, there’s almost certainly an impact to your ability to work.  Clearly, a lot to your story needs to be told.

How do you cope?

Let’s start by dismissing coping as good or bad.  Everyone copes with challenges everyday.  Being able to identify and put into perspective the level of coping is key in making a compelling description of how PTSD impacts your life.

Coping can almost be anything, some people cope through working out, for instance.  But if you’re working out 12 hours a day and your marriage fell apart, and your finances are a mess – it’s obviously become more of a hinderance to your overall state of being than it has a help.  The same can be true for alcohol, drugs, excessive sleep, risk taking behaviors, isolation, aggression, social media, eating, the list is endless.

So how are you coping with challenges brought on by PTSD?

Do you have a diagnosis?

Do you believe you have PTSD but you haven’t received a diagnosis?  Do you believe you were misdiagnosed?  In your opinion did an examiner not ask the right questions to be able to adequately determine if you experience PTSD, and perhaps the level of impairment you might have?

Sometimes this can all be placed in the fact that you might not have PTSD…per a clinical definition.  That doesn’t mean though, that you aren’t experiencing clinical anxiety, depression, intrusive memory or hallucinations, ADD, or any number of other symptoms that in themselves are diagnosable mental health conditions.

Sometimes, we focus on labeling too much and not enough on the challenges presented by what we’re experiencing.  If we expand the label outwards a little, there may be similar diagnosis that would better match the conditions you might be experiencing.

 The Last Question: How Can you Best Tell this Story?

A big reason why most claims that stay in the fight are ultimately approved is because many/most claims to Social Security are good claims.  They are often denied because the details are incomplete, or there’s a difference of opinion on how impairing an ailment or injury might be.

Your best bet is personal education like this article, and working with someone who can take a topic like PTSD and break it down in order to understand how PTSD challenges you on a daily basis.


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