The pandemic has hit healthcare providers hard. As we’ve all watched, hospitals have been overwhelmed by patients, many of whom can’t breathe well. They need oxygen. They may need to be intubated. They may die.
Worse, before the vaccines, doctors and nurses were even more likely than other people to get sick from COVID-19. Many healthcare professionals have watched helplessly as their colleagues got sick and struggled to survive. At the same time, these workers have worried for their own safety and that of their families.
It has been a deeply traumatic time for healthcare workers. Now, many are reporting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They experience symptoms such as flashbacks, troubling dreams, difficulty sleeping, distorted feelings, intrusive thoughts, easy startlement and emotional dysregulation. These symptoms can be so debilitating that the sufferer can no longer work.
Even before the pandemic, according to AAMC, 16% of emergency doctors reported symptoms of PTSD. A fall 2020 survey found that as many as 36% of front-line physicians were suffering from PTSD at that time. The numbers could continue to grow.
Young professionals and those who are burned out could be more at risk
A spring 2020 study found that young people just beginning their careers can be more vulnerable to PTSD. Another group thought to be at greater risk is those who were already burnt out on their jobs. Unfortunately, that could be a lot of people – 42% of doctors reported feeling burnt out even before the pandemic.
Social Security Disability generally covers debilitating PTSD
The process of approving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims often involves showing that the condition you’re suffering from is included in the Social Security Administration’s listings of impairments. PTSD is included in these listings, which makes filing a claim somewhat easier.
In order for SSDI to cover your PTSD, you must show that it completely keeps you from working in any job and is expected to do so for at least a year. You must provide medical evidence about the condition and its severity. If you don’t provide sufficient medical evidence, the Social Security Administration may seek additional information or even deny your claim.
Unfortunately, mental health claims can be harder to prove, especially when it is unclear how long the impairment will last. They are denied more often than physical injury claims, but that does not mean you don’t deserve benefits. Working with an attorney, you can ask the Social Security Administration for a reconsideration. If your claim is still denied, you can appeal.
If you are suffering from PTSD that will keep you from working for a year or longer, talk to an experienced Social Security Disability attorney about making an SSDI claim.