The Social Security Administration (SSA) has published a “Fact Sheet” on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. It is not quite clear to whom this Fact Sheet is directed, but it is available at https://www.ssa.gov/disability/Documents/PTSD%20Fact%20Sheet%202-28-18.pdf. It is presumably intended to supplement SSA’s new mental impairment listing 12.15 for trauma and stressor related disorders. https://empirejustice.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/October2016DAPnews-FINAL.pdf
The Fact Sheet references the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, or DSM-5, classification of PTSD under Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders. It spells out risk factors for PTSD, including witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event, having a mental health condition or having a family member with a mental health condition, lacking social support from friends or family after a traumatic event, or being exposed to combat or a war zone. It also outlines symptoms of PTSD, which may include flashbacks, but also angry outbursts. Children with PTSD may act out their experiences, have nightmares, or exhibit increased irritability or aggressiveness, or have difficulty with schoolwork or peers.
The Fact Sheet also outlines comorbidities, timeframes, and treatment options. Some of the information, especially the examples of symptoms, could be helpful in understanding our clients who have experienced trauma and in presenting their cases to Administrative Law Judges. A large number of claimants have experienced trauma at some point in their lives. See, for example, summaries of a recent ALJ decision and district court cases elsewhere in this newsletter.
In recognition of this trend, the DAP sessions at the upcoming NYSBA Partnership Conference in October will focus on trauma and trauma informed representation.