Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is no joke. It might not have any physical symptoms but it can severely affect your daily life. This is why people suffering from PTSD are wondering if they can get disability benefits.
As you know, not all medical conditions qualify for disability benefits. The Social Security Agency (SSA) also has very clear guidelines on what they consider a disability.
So, can you get disability for PTSD?
Yes, you can get disability benefits for PTSD but only if your condition is severe enough that it prevents you from working. You must also be able to prove it with proper medical documentation.
Unfortunately, proving that you have PTSD can be difficult. The SSA can be very thorough in evaluating medical evidence, especially for mental health conditions.
If you’re suffering from PTSD and planning to claim disability benefits, here’s what you need to know:
PTSD as a Disability
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a psychiatric condition triggered by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. It’s pretty common in combat veterans but it can happen to anyone who went through a horrific ordeal.
People suffering from PTSD usually have:
- flashbacks and nightmares that relive the traumatic event
- trouble remembering key details of the event
- intense and sporadic feelings of anger, sadness, or fear
- a feeling of detachment from other people or from reality
- intense or disturbing thoughts that last long after the event
They also tend to exhibit strong negative reactions to even the most ordinary things like an accidental touch or a loud noise. They usually avoid places or things that remind them of their trauma too.
Because of this, people with PTSD usually have a hard time living a normal life. Any reminder of the traumatic event they’ve been through can trigger an intense and irrational reaction in them. As such, finding a job or keeping one can be a challenge.
What Qualifies as PTSD?
Every single one of us responds to a traumatic event in different ways. But to qualify for PTSD, the SSA’s bluebook listing requires that you cannot do any of the following:
1. Understand, remember, or apply information to perform work activities.
- following oral instructions
- answering questions and providing explanations
- using reason and judgment to make work-related decisions
2. Interact with others, especially with co-workers, supervisors, and the public.
- understanding and responding to social cues
- initiating or maintaining a conversation
- handling conflicts with others
3. Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace when doing tasks.
- completing tasks in a timely manner
- ignoring or avoiding distractions when working
- changing tasks or work environments without disrupting others
4. Adapt or manage oneself, especially in terms of controlling emotions and behavior at work.
- adapting to changes
- maintaining personal hygiene and attire appropriate to the work setting
- setting realistic goals
How Much Disability Can You Get for PTSD?
If your condition satisfies the SSA’s bluebook requirements, you can apply for two types of benefits:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSDI is for those who have paid enough social security taxes while SSI is a needs-based benefit.
Each of these types of benefits varies in amount.
SSDI benefits, for instance, will depend on how much social security taxes you’ve paid. So the amount will differ for each person. For 2022, the average SSDI amount is around $1,358 per month. Though some have received up to $3,345.
For a closer estimate of how much SSDI you can receive, you can use the SSA’s benefit calculator.
SSI benefits, on the other hand, will depend on the SSA’s monthly maximum amount minus any countable income. The amount changes every year. For 2022, the maximum SSI payment is $841 for individuals and $1,261 for couples.
If you qualify for both, you can claim SSDI and SSI benefits at the same time.
How to Prove You Have PTSD
One of the greatest challenges if you’re claiming disability benefits for PTSD is proving that you are indeed suffering from one.
Like most psychiatric disorders, PTSD has no physical manifestations. It usually shows up only when the patient is exposed to something that relives their trauma. Or when you are exposed to very stressful situations. As such, proving your disability can be difficult.
According to the SSA, to prove your PTSD, you must submit evidence that shows your condition meets the SSA’s blue book listing. You’ll also need to submit documentation of all of the following:
- Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or violence;
- increases in reactivity and arousal (ie. easily getting startled and disturbed sleep)
- flashbacks or involuntary re-experiencing of the traumatic event
- extreme mood swings and irregular behavior
- avoidance of external reminders of the traumatic event
If your symptoms are serious and persistent, you must submit at least two years’ worth of medical records proving the existence of your PTSD. You must also present evidence that:
- you are undergoing medical treatment, mental health therapy, or psychosocial support for your condition
- you have a minimal capacity to adapt to the changes in your environment or meet demands that are outside your normal routine
If you can convince your mental health provider to complete a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form or write a letter on your behalf, then all the better. The SSA usually gives more weight to the statement of professional health providers.
Hiring an experienced workers compensation lawyer Like Victor Malca may also help your claim get approved faster. He has already helped thousands of injured workers in Florida. He can help you get the benefits you rightfully deserve too. Call us now for a free consultation.
(Related: How To Get SSI Backpay Faster: A Quick Guide)
VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney
Victor Malca P.A. has over 27 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success when fighting for his clients puts him among the most trusted workers’ compensation attorney’s in Florida. He specializes in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claiming lost social security disability benefits.
Book a free consultation today. Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are recognized by our past clients across South Florida.
About The Author
Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.