Does PTSD Qualify You For Social Security Disability Benefits?

by | Aug 22, 2023 | SSD Benefits

If you or a loved one is currently experiencing difficulties from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you may be wondering if PTSD qualifies as a disability. Yes, the Social Security Administration (SSA) includes PTSD in their listing of disabling impairments under mental disorders.

So, how can you get disability for PTSD? To qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, you need to meet the criteria specified by the SSA, provide medical documentation, and prove that you have limitations to work. Keep reading for more information on whether your condition qualifies.

Need immediate help? Find out how Disability Apply can help by filling out this free evaluation form.

PTSD And The SSA Blue Book

The SSA “Blue Book” includes a list of qualifying medical and mental illness impairments. This listing contains medical criteria that applies to how they evaluate impairments when determining disability benefits.

In the SSA Blue Book, there are 11 categories listed for mental disorders. Within this portion, Section 12.15 includes trauma and stressor-related disorders, which includes PTSD.

According to the SSA, the disorder is characterized by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event and the psychological aftermath of clinically significant effects on functioning. Examples of symptoms and signs of PTSD may include:

  • Distressing memories
  • Dreams and flashbacks related to the trauma or stressor
  • Avoidant behavior
  • Diminished interest or participation in significant activities
  • Persistent negative emotional states
  • Persistent inability to experience positive emotions
  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Aggression or exaggerated startle response
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep disturbance

If your PTSD is severe enough that prevents you from working, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. Do you need help applying for disability? Contact us today.

The SSA Medical Documentation Listing for PTSD

To establish that you have a mental impairment, the SSA will require medical evidence from an acceptable medical source. To satisfy the requirements for PTSD, an applicant must present medical documentation of all the following:

  • Exposure to death or threatened death, serious injury, or violence.
  • Subsequent involuntary re-experiencing of the traumatic event.
  • Avoidance of external reminders of the event.
  • Disturbance in mood and behavior.
  • Increases in arousal and reactivity.

It is important to provide all available medical evidence of your PTSD condition from your physician, psychologist, clinical mental health counselor, and all other health care providers.

Applicants that provide the SSA with complete and accurate evidence in a timely manner can help accelerate the processing of their claim.

What Are the Functional Criteria for PTSD?

Once the existence of PTSD is established, you must exhibit how your PTSD limits your mental functioning and your ability to function independently. The SSA will determine the degree to which your PTSD affects your ability to work based on four areas of mental functioning. These include your ability to:

  • Understand, remember, or apply information.
  • Interact with others.
  • Concentrate or maintain pace.
  • Adapt or manage oneself.

The SSA will consider the frequency of difficulty you would experience when attempting to perform these activities and whether you could function without help or supervision.

To satisfy the criteria, you must have either one extreme limitation or two marked limitations in these areas. To measure the four areas of mental functioning and determine the degree of your limitations, the SSA will use a five-point rating scale.

What If My PTSD Does Not Meet The Functional Criteria?

If you do not satisfy the criteria mentioned above, you will need to demonstrate that your condition is serious and persistent. To show that your PTSD is serious and has been persistent, the SSA will need:

  • Medical history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least 2 years.
  • Evidence of any ongoing medical treatment.
  • Demonstrate that you have minimal capacity to adapt to new changes or demands.

The SSA will use both medical and non-medical evidence that you provide to evaluate the limitations in your activities to determine if you are eligible for benefits. You can also provide evidence from family, friends, neighbors, or any mental health programs relevant to your PTSD.

Support For Your PTSD Disability Case

There is no short answer for how to get disability for PTSD. There are many things that will factor into determining your eligibility. Furthermore, the SSA will often deny your claim if you are not able to prove the severity of your symptoms and if your medical evidence is insufficient.

Working with a qualified Social Security Disability representative will help increase your chances of being approved for benefits. Disability Apply will help you or a loved one throughout the entire process and do everything possible to get you benefits.

If you would like to discuss the specifics of your case and gain a better understanding of whether you can get disability for PTSD, contact us today. Or, complete this free evaluation form for rapid support. We can help!

Do You Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

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    2. Did you earn taxable income for 5 of the last 10 years?

    3. Are you currently receiving disability benefits?

    4. Have you seen a doctor within the last 12 months?

    5. Are you currently working with a disability advocate?

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