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Did you know that Congress has designated today as National PTSD Awareness Day? It’s true! Today is a great day to raise your voice, share your thoughts and let people know that invisible wounds are, still, wounds! (Sheesh, I can’t believe we even have to work this hard to convince people of that.)
In our own world, where we know that invisible wounds need care and support, it’s good raise your own awareness about what support is available to you, mentally, physically and financially. For example, did you know that Social Security Benefits could be due to you while you cope with PTSD?
When symptoms of posttraumatic stress really kicked me to the curb and I had to leave work, the human resources department sent me home with a packet about Social Security. Let’s just say, the packet got thrown on my desk in a pile of Things I Just Can’t Deal With Right Now.
Buried as it became, I never pursued the form or the benefits available to me. I could have really used the support. Allsup is an organization dedicated to Social Security Disability Representation. In honor of PTSD Awareness Day they reached out to me with these simple tips to get you organized:
Determine Your Eligibility. For example, multiple sclerosis is classified as an anxiety-related disorder, under the impairment listing known as Mental Disorders. Here is some background to help determine if you may be eligible for SSDI benefits, but the best first step is to ask an expert for advice. You can receive a free evaluation from an SSDI expert like Allsup (www.Allsup.com) and then decide whether to pursue their claim alone or with a representative for a fee, which is regulated by the Social Security Administration. http://www.allsup.com/about-ssdi/ssdi-guidelines-by-disability/post-traumatic-stress-disorder.aspx
Don’t Wait. If you believe you are eligible, don’t wait to file your claim. State Disability Determination Services (DDS) offices (which review and assess SSDI claims for the Social Security Administration) are swamped by an influx of new claims in recent years. Add that to the fact that at least 11 states are unnecessarily furloughing DDS employees and any claim takes time to process and review, especially if you do not have a representative. The longer you wait to begin the process, the longer it will be before your claim is resolved and (if awarded) the longer it will be before you begin receiving monthly income.
Build Records. Work with your doctors and former employers to compile detailed records of your work and medical history. If your initial claim is denied, having a comprehensive factual record of your disability already prepared means you’re ready for the appeals process.
Make a Financial Plan. The long wait for benefits can mean lost savings and even lost homes. An Allsup survey of pending SSDI claimants found that 15 percent of its customers who are waiting for a decision to be made about their SSDI are, or expect to be, in foreclosure proceedings. Cut out unnecessary spending as quickly as possible and prepare for the long haul. If your claim is approved, you will receive a lump benefit covering your application time, less the five full-month waiting period, but those resources won’t be available until after the process is complete.
In your own personal PTSD Awareness Day campaign, raise your own awareness of what help is available to you today, and every day.
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