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West Virginia Social Security Blog

Do you have a disability if you have PTSD?

When you are unable to work because of a medical condition, you can't earn an income to support your family, meet your own basic needs and pay for other things you want. This is a pressing need, and you need to find a way to get help as soon as possible. You may attempt to secure financial support by applying for Social Security disability benefits.

Disability benefits are available to individuals who cannot work because of an injury, illness or mental condition that leaves them unable to meet the demands of their jobs. This includes certain types of mental conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder. If you have PTSD and are unable to work as you did in the past, you may be eligible for support from the Social Security Administration. 

A migraine is more than a headache

People sometimes make the mistake of assuming that a migraine is just a headache that perhaps lasts longer than you would expect or does not respond as well to medication and painkillers. While both of those things may be true, it's important to note that it's far more than a headache. Migraines can be so severe that they make it impossible to do anything -- hobbies, work, exercise, etc.

The issue is that the severe headache caused by a migraine may also come with some of the following symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling very cold
  • Feeling very warm
  • Extreme sensitivity to light,
  • Extra sensitivity to smells and noises
  • Throbbing pain that may move around your head
  • Belly pain and upset stomach
  • Nausea and vomiting

West Virginia Social Security Offices Are Still Processing Applications

Social Security field offices in West Virginia, as well as in many other parts of the country, are now closed. Closing the offices does not mean that people can no longer complete an application for benefits. 

Apply Online Or Call

The SSA is directing people to check their online services before calling their offices for help. They are still assisting people by phone and mail, in addition to the self-service options available through the website.

PTSD symptoms veterans may suffer

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a very serious condition that many veterans suffer from when they return from combat. It can make it hard for them to integrate back into civilian life. They may find it hard to socialize, work and even connect with loved ones.

First and foremost, it's important to note that PTSD is different for everyone. It may show different symptoms and may be tied to exactly what type of experiences the soldier lived through. With that in mind, some potential symptoms include:

  • Having flashbacks
  • Feeling jumpy
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Being easily startled
  • Having nightmares
  • Always feeling irritated
  • Suffering from mood swings
  • Lashing out angrily at others, even loved ones
  • Always feeling on guard or in danger
  • Becoming upset by anything that reminds you of the event
  • Suffering from vivid memories
  • Feeling numb and emotionally distant from others
  • Not caring about things you once loved

Limits on assets always a concern with SSI-related benefits

For West Virginia residents who are disabled and have limited resources and income, Supplemental Security Income can be an integral part of making ends meet. Given the relatively small amounts that people can earn and have as resources when they are getting SSI-related benefits, the limits can be a concern. Understanding the current limits is key when applying for SSI.

Several times, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives sought to raise the amount that SSI recipients could have while getting benefits but was rebuffed each time. The House member from Arizona brought the bill in 2013 with the goal of single applicants for SSI being allowed to have assets as much as $10,000 and married applicants having $15,000. At the time, the limits were $2,000 and $3,000, respectively. The bill did not go far, and the House member tried two more times with the same results. A recent fourth attempt remains in a House committee awaiting advancement.

Applying for benefits because of back issues

West Virginia residents with back or spine problems that make it impossible to work may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Ideally, applicants will be able to provide 12 months of medical records detailing the extent of their health problems. Those who don't have recent medical records will likely be asked to submit to a consultative evaluation (CE). The CE is designed to give an examiner an idea of the applicant's current medical status rather than diagnose a health condition.

It is also worth noting that a chiropractor is generally not considered to be a valid source of medical records. However, images taken by a chiropractor may be used as evidence of a physical impairment. Individuals may be entitled to benefits because they meet listing criteria or qualify for a medical-vocational allowance. Generally speaking, those under the age of 50 are unlikely to be approved solely based on their back pain or spinal impairment.

Proving your disability can be a long journey

When you are unable to work because of a medical problem, it can take a serious toll on you and every member of your family. Securing financial help through a Social Security Disability claim is important, but deciding to move forward with this process is only the first of many steps you will have to take. In order to get benefits from the Social Security Administration, you will have to provide extensive proof of your disability.

The SSA holds a strict definition of disability. Even with a legitimate mental or physical problem, you may find that it is difficult to get what you need. In fact, many first-time claims come back denied. Before you move forward with your claim, you may want to learn about how the SSA reviews claims and what you can do to give yourself a better chance of success.

Seeking disability benefits for a disc disorder

Some West Virginia residents who find themselves unable to work due to degenerative disc disease may want to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. In most cases, the Social Security Administration evaluates these applications according to its criteria for spinal disorders, including spinal stenosis and vertebral fractures in addition to degenerative disc disease. One section of the SSA's guidelines specifically addresses degenerative disorders of the spine, laying out criteria for the severity of the illness required to receive disability benefits.

According to the agency, applicants for SSD benefits must show that one of their nerve roots has been compromised by the disorder, such as the spinal cord or cauda equina. Evidence of nerve root compression may include some types of pain distribution, loss of motor function, limited spinal motion, muscle atrophy or weakness. For people with lower back degenerative disc disorders, they should be able to show positive straight leg tests conducted by a medical doctor when they are both sitting and laying down, which means that they have pain when their legs are held in a straight position.

Applying for SSD after a rotator cuff injury

When people in West Virginia suffer a rotator cuff injury to the shoulder, they may find it exceedingly painful and difficult to perform their duties at work. The Social Security Administration recognizes that this type of injury is a severe medical condition. However, it is not listed specifically in the SSA's Blue Book, the document used to assess conditions for Social Security Disability benefits. Some people may be able to qualify for disability benefits after a serious rotator cuff tear, but the specifics depend on each person's medical records.

In order to receive Social Security Disability, the applicant's disability must be expected to persist for at least 12 months. In many cases, people may face difficulty qualifying for SSD benefits because their rotator cuff injury, while severe, is expected to reach full recovery before that point. The Social Security Administration evaluates shoulder injuries as a type of joint dysfunction. In order to receive benefits under this guideline, people must experience a serious deformity of the joint, chronic pain and an inability to move the joint effectively. While some people with rotator cuff tears meet these guidelines, others may face more difficulties.

Qualifying for SSDI or SSI benefits after a spinal cord injury

Whatever type of accident you were in, the result was that you suffered a spinal cord injury. Even if your doctors tell you that you will regain full sensation and control over your limbs, you are looking at a long recovery. It could take a year or more for you to achieve the best recovery possible. If your doctors told you that you will never achieve a full recovery, you will need to make permanent adjustments to your life, which could include not being able to work, at least temporarily.

Since you received your diagnosis, your financial situation has probably been high on your list of worries. You discovered that your condition could qualify you for benefits from the Social Security Administration, but you may not realize that obtaining those benefits is not as easy as it sounds.

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