Can You Get Disability For PTSD? Learn How To Qualify

What Is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? 

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder triggered by a traumatic event. You can develop PTSD when you experience or witness an event that causes intense fear, helplessness, or horror.

Experience of trauma does not always trigger this disorder; most people recover from trauma, given time and effective coping methods. Sometimes, however, the symptoms worsen and last a long time and sometimes they are so severe they interfere with your life. These cases are classified as PTSD.

PTSD also puts you at risk for problems such as:

Not only does PTSD affect the emotions and thoughts, it has also been linked to physical conditions such as:

PTSD disability is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation in which the psychologist or psychiatrist looks for the symptoms described below. You may also have a physical exam to check for any other medical problems. If you are unable to work because of PTSD, you may be able to qualify for disability.

Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD symptoms usually begin within three months of a traumatic event. Sometimes, however, reaction can be delayed, sometimes for years. Symptoms can come and go and are often more likely to occur during times of stress in your life, or if something happens in your daily life to trigger a memory of the traumatic event.

Symptoms include:

  • Flashbacks, or reliving the traumatic event
  • Upsetting dreams about the traumatic event
  • Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Avoiding activities
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Having trouble with your memory
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Inability or difficulty in maintaining close relationships
  • Irritability or anger
  • Overwhelming feelings of guilt or shame
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Being easily startled or frightened
  • Visual or auditory hallucinations

Treatment for post traumatic stress disorder is best when it takes place soon after the symptoms start. It can include one or more of the following: counseling and psychotherapy or medications (including antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and antipsychotics). An alternative therapy is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.

Is PTSD a Disability?

Yes, PTSD is considered a disability by the Social Security Administration. You can qualify for disability for PTSD if it meets a Blue Book trauma listing and impacts your ability to work full-time and your daily life.

If you have PTSD, you may be able to get disabilityThe SSA’s Blue Book is the list of conditions that qualifies for disability.

The listing that PTSD can be considered a disability for is under Trauma- and stressor-related disorders, which is in Listing 12.15 in the Blue Book for adults.

According to this section, you will need to demonstrate through evidence how PTSD impacts your mental function, mood, behavior, and more even with treatment.

If you have PTSD and you can match this section, the SSA can consider you disabled, and you will be able to earn PTSD disability benefits.

To speak with a local disability attorney about your PTSD case, fill out a free disability review today.

Can You Qualify For Disability With PTSD?

To qualify for disability with PTSD, you will need to meet specific criteria. This includes:

Medical Requirments

You can have a successful disability claim for PTSD, but for you to get disability for PTSD it needs to be properly medically documented. This is because the successful completion of this step is likely one of the most important signs your disability claim will be approved.

To medically qualify you will need to meet the following: 

Blue Book Listing 12.15 - Trauma and stressor-related disorders

You must meet the requirements of Paragraph A and the requirements of either Paragraph B or Paragraph C.

Paragraph A states you must have medical documentation of all of the following:


  1. You were exposed to actual or threatened violence, serious injury, or death;
  2. You now have involuntary re-experiencing of the traumatic event (dreams, flashbacks, etc.);
  3. You avoid of external reminders of the event;
  4. You experience a disturbance of your mood and behavior; and
  5. You have increases in reactivity and in arousal.

In addition, you must meet the conditions of either paragraph B or C below:


  1. You experience extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of 2 of the following:
    1. understanding, applying information, or remembering;
    2. interacting with others;
    3. concentrating; and/or
    4. managing yourself

Or C:

  1. You have medically documented your history of PTSD over at least 2 years and have evidence showing both:
    1. treatments (medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or a highly structured setting(s)) that are on going and diminishes the symptoms and signs of PTSD; AND
    2. You have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to meet demand that are not already part of your daily life. 

If you have PTSD, you may be able to get disability

Work Requirments

For PTSD to be considered a disability by the SSA, you will need to meet the work requirements outlined by the SSA, as SSDI benefits are for those who at one point could work, but now can no longer because of a disability like PTSD.

Work credits are calculated by your age and how long you have worked. If you have paid taxes into Social Security, you can earn work credits. You can earn up to four work credits for each year that you work. 

Financial Requirments

If you are applying for SSDI, along with the work credits, you will need to meet financial requirements. If you are working, you cannot make over $1,470 a month. If you earn more than this, the SSA will not consider you disabled.

If you are applying for SSI, you will not have a minimum number of work credits. Instead, the SSA will take into consideration your income and assets. For an individual, you cannot have more than $2,000 in income and assets while a couple cannot have more than $3,000.

For specific tips on qualifying for disability with PTSD, click here

What If Your PTSD Doesn't Meet The SSA's Requirements? 

You can still apply for disability even if your PTSD does not meet the criteria. You can request a medical vocational allowance and have a Mental Residual Funcational Capacity (MRFC) be filed out on your behalf. This will outline how your PTSD impacts your ability to work.

Speaking with an attorney may also help. Nearly all initial claims are denied disability benefits. A disability lawyer may be able to help you improve your chances of getting approved. 

Filing for Social Security Disability with a PTSD Diagnosis

Post traumatic stress disorder cases are approved by SSA either by satisfying the criteria under Section 12.06 of the Blue Book, or by medical vocational allowance.

When presenting your PTSD disability claim, your medical records should include at least one detailed description of the anxiety reaction you experience. That description should include the nature, duration, and frequency of the anxiety reaction and the effect(s) the anxiety reaction has on your ability to function. It should also include incidental factors that may cause or worsen the anxiety reaction. In addition, this description should indicate whether the description of the anxiety reaction matches your doctor's own observations. 

You will also need information about your past work history, W-2 form(s), your birth certificate, proof of U.S. citizenship, any awards letter or settlements you have received for other compensation-type benefits. 

To make sure you have everything you need, use the SSA's Adult Disability Checklist. Once everything is gathered, you can file for disability.

You can file for disability with PTSD online, over the phone, or in person at a nearby SSA office. 

How Much Disability Will You Get For PTSD? 

If you are awarded Social Security disability benefits because you have been diagnosed with PTSD and your symptoms are so severe that you can’t work, you could receive up to $3,627 per month in disability benefits in 2023. 

The maximum disability benefit amount given by the Social Security Administration is $3,627 per month. However, the amount that you receive could be less based on factors that the SSA uses to determine benefit amounts. The average disability payment amount in most states is around $1,500.  A disability lawyer will be able to tell you how much in disability you can get. Some of the factors that influence the amount of benefit that you are awarded include: 

Your Work History 

When you work you earn work credits. The work credits that you earn from the SSA are based on your income. You can receive up to 4 total work credits per year. The SSA will look at how many work credits you’ve earned and how many years you’ve been working when they are considering your benefit amount. They will also consider your age.  

Your Level Of Disability 

If your disability is temporary, you may receive a smaller benefit amount than you would receive if your disability were long-term or permanent. If you are receiving benefits for a mental health condition like PTSD your benefit amount may be determined in part by your prognosis from a psychologist.  

If You Receive Family Help Or Income From Another Source 

If you have investments, an annuity, a trust, or if your family helps pay for your living expenses that can impact the amount of the benefit that you receive.  
 To see how much you could get in PTSD disability, use our Social Security benefits calculator to see how much you could be able to earn in PTSD disability benefits.

Your Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Disability Case

If you have PTSD, you may be able to get disabilityIf you are disabled because of PTSD that is severe enough to prevent you from working, you may be entitled to Social Security mental illness disability in either Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

You can learn more by filling out a quick and free evaluation form regarding your case.

Working closely with medical professionals and a qualified Social Security disability attorney or disability advocate to collect and present the appropriate documentation to support your disability claim in front of the Disability Determination Services (DDS) can help to ensure that your Post Traumatic Stress Disorder disability (PTSD disability) case will have the highest possible chance of success.

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