Disability Benefits for Trauma and Stress Related Disorder

Anxiety disorders triggered by an accident or trauma are classified as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD. The SSA classifies PTSD as Trauma and Stress Related disorder under the neurological disorder listings.

Experiencing trauma doesn’t necessarily end up magnified as PTSD for all; However, for some, this could worsen and last a long time and sometimes the symptoms become so severe that they affect a person’s daily cognitive and adaptive functioning.

PTSD is also sometimes referred to as ‘battle fatigue’, ‘shell shock’ and ‘post traumatic stress syndrome’. However, PTSD does not only affect war survivors or those who have served in combat, it can also result from childhood abuse, rape, violence, or even a traumatic natural catastrophes, such as a hurricanes, tsunamis etc.

PTSD can be a basis of a successful disability claim, but you would need to prove to the SSA that your disorder is indeed disabling. In determining whether your disorder is disabling, the disability examiner, DE will look into your medical records, including hospital records and notes from the doctors, therapists and counselors. The SSA could also ask for your doctor, caretaker, or healthcare provider to fill out details in the Residual Capacity Form, RFC, to address the work-related limitations that arise from the disorder.

Medical Documentation for Filing for Disability for PTSD

Although those with PTSD commonly experience periods of anxiety, nightmares, panic attacks and flashbacks that seriously hinder their day to day life, it is important that you have documented all the symptoms and events in your medical records. The SSA will require all of the medical documents:

  • An exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or violence;
  • A subsequent involuntary re-experiencing of the traumatic event (for example, intrusive memories, dreams, or flashbacks);
  • An avoidance of external reminders of the event;
  • Disturbances in mood and behavior; and
  • Increases in arousal and reactivity (for example, exaggerated startle response, sleep disturbance).

Along with the medical records, the SSA will also look into the hospital records or your doctor’s notes/opinions to determine the following:

  • Extreme or marked limitation in understanding, remembering, or applying information
  • Extreme or marked limitation in interacting with others
  • Extreme or marked limitation in concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace
  • Extreme or marked limitation in adapting or managing oneself

Meeting the above symptoms for PTSD will not be enough to win disability claims. You must be able to show evidence to the SSA that you meet either of the following conditions along with those mentioned above.

This is to determine that your mental disorder or ‘PTSD’ is serious and persistent and you have documented all of your medical visits, treatments and symptoms for at least 2 years following your diagnosis, and there is evidence of one or both:

  • Medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or a highly structured setting(s) that is ongoing and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of your mental disorder
  • Marginal adjustment, that is, you have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life

In addition to meeting the above criteria to qualify for disability for PTSD, testimonies from third-party individuals such as your boss, coworker, house helper or caretaker may also increase your chances of winning.

You can consult our disability advocates for more personalized guidance.