The wars of the last decade led to a marked increase in the number of people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Combat experience is not a necessary cause of this psychological condition but it is a frequent reason behind the development of symptoms. Many of those who have been afflicted with this syndrome want to know more about the ways that they can receive help in the workplace, in the form of short-term and long-term disability benefits, when their symptoms manifest themselves.
PTSD: Various Origins and Impacts
PTSD can develop in some individuals as a result of exposure to any events that may inflict physical or emotional trauma. The actual diagnosis is left up to a psychologist or psychiatrist. The symptoms may include effects ranging from mild insomnia to waking hallucinations that endanger the individual and those around him or her.
Short-Term Disability and PTSD
When people suffer from diagnosed illnesses such as this, they often qualify for a variety of benefits in the work place and at both the state and federal level. For instance, many people with physical or psychological trauma in the past can receive long-term disability from the federal government. However, not everyone has the same profile when it comes to PTSD.
In order to qualify for long-term benefits, a person’s condition must generally leave him or her unable to function properly in the workplace for more than two weeks. In fact, such conditions might render the person unable to function at all. The benefits paid out for such situations are derived from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). However, the federal government does not offer any kind of short-term disability (STD) benefits.
Short-term disability is something that impairs an employee’s ability to function for less than two weeks. However, its definition is not widely agreed upon because there is no widespread format for dispensing such benefits. This is a matter left up to the states and some states do not offer or sponsor any kind of STD benefits. Additionally, many employers offer STD benefits for employees that meet the policy requirements.
Qualifying for STD Benefits and Using Them
The specific requirements for receiving short-term benefits vary but there are some general similarities between all the policies at the state and employer levels. If you do not meet at least some of the following requirements, it is unlikely that you will qualify for short-term disability classification in any setting.
• Employees must submit medical paperwork proving the existence of the disorder or trauma.
• An employee must have worked for some minimum period of time for a company. This may vary from as little as 30 days to six months.
• In addition, there may be a minimum earnings requirement that must be met.
• There may be a pre-existing clause with regard to this specific form of request. Typical expectations may be 6 months at a minimum.
• Most employers enforce a one-week waiting period before paying any benefits.
• The PTSD must not be related to the work place or an incident that occurred in the workplace. In such a case, there would be other sources of assistance available and short-term disability is utilized only when there are no other resources available.
• Typically, benefits last no more than a total of 26 weeks. However, this number also varies by state. California oversees a system that allows up to 52 weeks of benefits for STD.
• The size of the benefits varies but is usually around 60% of the prior wage or salary.
Do You Qualify?
Unfortunately, there is not a good track record for awarding short-term disability benefits to employees suffering from PTSD. If you are going to attempt to qualify for such benefits, you should be prepared to submit a lot of paperwork. In most cases, it will not be sufficient to have a general practitioner simply submit a diagnosis after having seen you on one occasion. PTSD diagnoses are very subjective and usually require multiple sessions in therapy to diagnose to the satisfaction of employers or states.
In order to manage this process successfully, employees may want to access a website known as the Job Accommodation Network (JAN). This independent network interacts directly with the employee to satisfy concerns and direct him or her to the proper authorities and resources. Many of the workers in this agency are themselves disabled and have experience in managing this situation at both the personal level and the bureaucratic level.
If the way forward is complicated by heavy demands or indecipherable paperwork, the best solution may be to involve a medical professional in the process. For example, a therapist would be an ideal person to contribute any needed testimony and general support through the process. Examples of testimony might be more than simple reports about therapeutic results but also include hospitalizations and drug prescriptions.
There are not many records of people getting short-term disability for PTSD without going through a long process. Employees should be prepared to do more than submit paperwork. They may also have to wait until every other resource has been either denied or used up before short-term benefits become available. In addition, STD benefits only last for a short period. As soon as they are acquired, employees may have to begin another process as they open a case for long-term disability through the federal government, an employer or both.
It is not necessary for employees with PTSD to do this alone. In addition to the JAN and therapists, employees may discover resources with their employers or their states to help them handle the process effectively.