How To Apply For Disability Benefits With PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition an individual might develop after a frightening experience. A person may develop PTSD as a result of a prolonged traumatic experience, such as a period of military service, or after a single event.

Someone with PTSD could experience a range of symptoms. Examples include (but certainly aren’t limited to):

  • Nightmares
  • Panic attacks
  • General anxiety

Do you have PTSD? Do you struggle with symptoms so severe that they prevent you from working? If so, you may be eligible for disability benefits through the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA).

Your PTSD may qualify you for disability benefits

Determine How Your PTSD Limits You

The SSA offers disability benefits to those who can’t work due to certain disabling and/or limiting conditions. To determine if you may qualify for benefits due to PTSD, you should attempt to establish the following:

  • PTSD currently has a negative impact on your ability to work and/or has had a negative impact on your ability to work in the past
  • Your condition is likely to continue preventing you from working for at least 12 months

You may also find that PTSD symptoms have a negative influence on your ability to complete certain day-to-day tasks. This is another factor the SSA might account for when evaluating your eligibility for disability benefits.

Consult the Blue Book For PTSD

The SSA’s Blue Book offers general information regarding the medical evidence and documentation an applicant with PTSD should provide when applying for disability benefits. According to the Blue Book’s section on disorders like PTSD, you will need offer evidence confirming all of the following:

  • You have experienced exposure to death (whether actual or threatened), violence, or serious injury
  • In the form of flashbacks, nightmares, etc., you have “re-experienced” a traumatic experience
  • External reminders of your traumatic experience upset you to such an extent that you purposefully avoid them
  • Your PTSD has resulted in mood and behavior changes
  • Your PTSD causes you to experience an increase “in arousal and reactivity”

You must also provide evidence confirming at least one of the following:

  • PTSD has caused you to struggle with a limitation in at least two qualifying aspects of mental functioning
  • Your PTSD qualifies as a “serious and persistent” mental health disorder

When gathering this evidence, coordinating with a professional(s) is essential. A mental health professional may help you demonstrate your PTSD meets these criteria.

Gather Required Documents

Additional documentation you might need to submit to the SSA includes:

  • A birth certificate or other such proof of birth
  • Recent tax information
  • Military discharge papers if you served in the armed forces prior to 1968
  • Proof that you are a citizen or lawful alien

The SSA may also ask you to submit pay stubs and similar financial documents. You’ll need to submit an Adult Disability Report as well. This report explains your condition in greater detail.

Speak With a Disability Attorney

Providing as much evidence you can when submitting an application for disability benefits is critical. Be aware, the SSA denies most initial applications.

Consider enlisting the help of a disability attorney when preparing to submit a claim. A disability lawyer can assist you in gathering the evidence you need, allowing you to focus more on your health. Get started today by taking the Free Case Evaluation form on this page and we’ll connect you with someone who can help—at zero cost to you.

Additional Resources