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Do Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits apply to mental illnesses?

Question: A few years ago, I was the victim of an assault. I was in pretty bad shape physically, but seemed to be doing okay-especially after the criminal trial was over and he was convicted. About six months ago, however, I started having trouble sleeping, and having nightmares about the incident.

I haven't been able to work because I haven't been able to sleep. Not long ago I was in a restaurant and a guy came in who looked just like the guy who assaulted me. I screamed and ran for the ladies room. I went to a doctor who said I have severe post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He recommended therapy and some time off work. Can I get SS disability benefits for an illness that isn't physical?

Answer: You have been through a lot and clearly need some time to heal and mend. You can apply for SS Disability for PTSD. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not distinguish between mental and physical illnesses when it comes to SS disability eligibility. There are, however, certain criteria that you need to meet.

First, you must have worked for at least 40 quarters (10 years) during the times of your employment. These quarters do not have to be consecutive. In some limited circumstances, someone who has worked fewer than 40 quarters can claim benefits from a parent's earning history.

In addition to working 40 quarters, you must have a medical condition that is expected to last at least a year--SS disability does not cover short-term disability issues. If your doctor and therapist determine that you will be unable to work for the next year or so, you should apply for benefits. Keep in mind that you must provide adequate documentation for your condition. A social security disability (SSDI) lawyer can advise you more on the process.

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