Is it possible to receive disability benefits for PTSD in California?
As an increasingly large percentage of the population is well aware, post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD) can be an extremely disabling condition. Whether the result of domestic abuse, a catastrophic event, or military action, PTSD can cause:
- Problems with concentration
- Extreme anxiety and/or hypervigilance
- Risk-taking behaviors
- Night terrors
- Panic attacks and/or exaggerated startle response
- Sleep disturbances
- Aggressive, criminal or suicidal behavior
- Emotional numbness or complete withdrawal
How to Get Disability Benefits in California for PTSD
If you are a resident of California with documented PTSD that prevents you from earning a living, you may be able to collect disability benefits through:
- Short-term disability benefits from the State of California
- Social Security disability benefits from the federal government
- Veterans' disability compensation from the U.S. government
- Disability retirement benefits for federal employees
- California workers' compensation benefits from private insurer if PTSD is work-related
- Short- or long-term disability benefits from employer-provided insurance policy
Disability Benefits from Social Security Administration (SSA)
The Social Security Administration dispenses two varieties of disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income. The former is disability insurance for those insured under Social Security and the latter is supplemental income for those with low income and limited assets.
California's Disability Determination Service Division (DDSD) will make the determination as to whether your PTSD is severe enough to render you incapable of working and therefore qualify you for federal disability. The DDSD is in charge of evaluating the severity of your disorder based on psychiatric records and reports by the psychiatrist presently treating you. The psychiatric report should document flashbacks, nightmares, periods of acute distress, panic attacks and/or other symptoms of serious PTSD.
Veterans' Disability Compensation and Workers' Compensation
If you are a California veteran and your PTSD is the result of military service, you are eligible for veterans' disability benefits (assuming you received an honorable or GUHC discharge). Recent changes in the laws have made it easier to prove that your PTSD is service-connected. Even if your PTSD is determined to be unrelated to your military service, you may be entitled to a military disability pension.
If you reside in California and your PTSD is work-related, you are entitled to workers' compensation benefits. These include payment of all medical expenses and disability benefits if you are temporarily unable to work. Workers' compensation for PTSD, however, has a low ceiling with a maximum benefit of $1,066.
If you are suffering from PTSD and unable to work due to your psychiatric disorder, you should contact an attorney experienced in Social Security Disability claims to help you understand your legal options.