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Simply put PTSD is a stress disorder that develops after a highly traumatic event which can be either physical or psychological. When it was initially identified it was also called war neurosis or shell shock and affects servicemen or servicewomen who have been exposed to combat. More recently childhood abuse, physical violence, sexual assault or any other act that may be perceived as life-threatening and traumatic, such as an earthquake, fire, hurricane or another catastrophic event could cause PTSD. PTSD happens when the psyche has been shocked and traumatized so badly that it is unable to cope. This is not simply shock, depression or stress but the brain chemistry can actually change.
To improve your chances in qualifying for Social Security disability it is critical to see a psychologist or psychiatrist on a regular basis. Severity is the key to determine whether your PTSD qualifies you for benefits so tracking the frequency and intensity of your symptoms is critical. Keeping a detailed diary of how you feel each day and any activities you could not do, can be an important part in proving how debilitating living with PTSD is, along with regular treatment and medications from a mental health professional. Since qualifying for Social Security disability depends on you being able to perform a job with PTSD, it is also critical to document how this illness affects your ability to perform your duties at work.
First and foremost, the PTSD must be severe enough to inhibit the veteran from performing normal work tasks and physical activity. Having normal sensory functions such as seeing, speaking or hearing are also considered along with the ability to make ordinary changes or decisions in the workplace. While a diagnosis from the VA is important Social Security looks beyond that to determine if the veteran can perform substantial work with the condition.
As with any mental health diagnosis, Social Security will deny you if they find substance abuse in your medical history because they feel that prescribed medications effectiveness is compromised by self-medicating by the applicant with either illicit drugs or alcohol. Going to rehab and being clean for at least a year can help in this instance.