Prolonged Grief Disorder DSM 5 and Social Security Disability Benefits

Prolonged Grief Disorder DSM 5 and Social Security Disability Benefits

Grieving is a natural part of the process of saying goodbye to a loved one. For most, with the assistance of time, assistance from friends and family, and often counseling - the pain and accompanying symptoms of grief will ease. However, for those with Prolonged Grief Disorder those feelings are not eased with time. For some, Prolonged Grief Disorder will be disabling and can make them eligible for Social Security Disability.

Prolonged Grief Disorder DSM 5 and Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder

Prolonged Grief Disorder is newly classified in the DSM-V, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The DSM-V is what mental health professionals use to classify mental disorders like depression, anxiety, and now Prolonged Grief Disorder. In 2021 the disease was upgraded in the DSM-V from Section III of the manual to Section II which puts it on par with other well-known disorders, like depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and generalized anxiety.

The disease had previously been called “Persistent Complex Bereavement Syndrome” and was merely a disease being studied by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).  By upgrading the status of Prolonged Grief Disorder those who suffer from it should receive greater recognition that their disease is real and its symptoms serious.

What is Prolonged Grief Disorder DSM 5?

Prolonged Grief Disorder is intense grief that lasts longer than one year after someone’s death. Those affected have daily and intense feelings of loss of yearning for the deceased. These feelings tend to preoccupy the person affected for most of the day, nearly every day, for at least a month.

According to the APA, those affected may have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • feeling as though part of themselves has died;
  • a sense of disbelief about the death;
  • avoiding reminders that the person is dead;
  • intense anger, bitterness, or sorrow about the death;
  • difficulty moving on with life like difficulty engaging with friends and planning for the future;
  • emotional numbness;
  • intense loneliness like feeling alone or detached from others; and
  • feeling that life is meaningless.

How might someone with Prolonged Grief Disorder DSM 5 qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

A diagnosis alone of Prolonged Grief Disorder will not automatically qualify someone for Social Security Disability. Instead, it will depend on the severity of the symptoms.

Social Security looks first to “listings” which categorize illnesses, and if they are severe enough in the claimant’s case, will qualify them for disability. Prolonged Grief Disorder is new and does not have its own “listing.” But it might fall under listing 12.15 for trauma and stressor-related disorders. Or, because the disease includes features of other diseases, someone with Prolonged Grief Disorder might qualify under listing 12.06 as an anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, 12.04 as a depressive or related disorder, or possibly 12.08 as a personality and impulse control disorder.

Where to learn more:

  1. If you or a loved one are dealing with long-term all-consuming grief, you can learn more from the American Psychiatric Association. While grief is normal, long-term all-consuming grief could be a problem and could be Prolonged Grief Disorder.
  2. If you are in Alabama, contact Disability Alabama about a potential Social Security Disability claim if Prolonged Grief Disorder has made you unable to work.