Can I claim Social Security Disability for PTSD?

You do not need to have been in a war zone to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While it is frequent among veterans, it can happen to anyone. PTSD can occur due to something that happened to you or something you saw happen to someone else. It may even occur if you hear about something horrible happening to a loved one, despite not witnessing it. Two people could undergo the same experience, yet only one might suffer from PTSD afterward. Medication will work for some sufferers, but not for others. Because PTSD is such an individual thing, people might not believe you have it. If you are unable to work due to PTSD, you need the Social Security Administration (SSA) to believe you.

What does the SSA consider a post-traumatic stress disorder?

The SSA recognizes PTSD under Section 12.15 Trauma- and stressor-related disorders. It gives two ways to qualify for Social Security Disability with PTSD. For both ways, you must have had exposure to a violent incident and continue to re-experience it. It needs to affect your mood and behavior and lead to increased arousal and reactions to it. Then you need to prove one of two things:
  • Either it limits your ability to think, interact, concentrate or adapt. It must do one of these to an extreme level or two to a marked level.
  • Or, you have a medical history showing you have had a serious and persistent mental disorder for at least two years.
Remember that the SSA guidelines are there to help staff decide whether you qualify for Social Security Disability. If you do not meet the guidelines, it may still be possible to persuade them you are eligible. Seek help to understand more about the application process for Social Security Disability.