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Vets, PTSD and Social Security Disability Benefits

It’s heartbreaking every time you see an article about a Vet dying by suicide. In 2016, 128 Alabama veterans took their own lives, a rate of 34.2 per 100,000 people, far above the rate of 20.5 for the overall population.

The things our Service Men and Women see and do, what they suffer-both physically and mentally-is the stuff of nightmares. We owe them so much more than they receive.

Not long ago I sat, once again, in my office-speaking with another one of our veterans who was suffering from the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The strain has caused great difficulty keeping steady employment and has affected their family dynamics. After reviewing the soldier’s medical and military record and reading what they had gone through, I was amazed that they had done as well as they had thus far.

PTSD is a serious mental condition which develops after a person has experienced a traumatic event, and unfortunately, we have seen an increase in post-traumatic stress cases due our soldiers returning home from the war.

The Social Security Administration lists Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a condition which can be disabling when the symptoms interfere with the person’s ability to engage in sustained work activity. Listing 12.06 in the Code of Federal Regulations lays out in specifics the impairments which a sufferer has to have in order to qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits for this condition; however, if you do not “meet or equal” this listing, you may still be entitled to disability benefits if your condition, in conjunction with any other physical or mental impairment, prevents you from returning to work you have done in the past and other substantial work you might be qualified to perform given your age, education and acquired work skills.

Moreover, if your disability began while you were on active military service-on or after October 1, 2001-then your claim is entitled to be expedited. This process covers anyone who was on active duty at the time they became disabled, whether at home or on foreign soil, whether the disability is based on a physical impairment, mental impairment or a combination of the two.

Active duty apples to: (1) anyone on full time duty in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard and includes active duty for training; (2) students at U.S. Military academies; (3) National Guard components who were ordered into active duty by Order of the President of the United States during a time of war or national emergency; or (4) Reserve components of the U.S. military and includes active duty during full time training duty, annual training duty and attendance while in the active service at a school designated as a Military Service School.

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