Can veterans get disability benefits for PTSD?

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2024 | Social Security Disability

Veterans who have fought for our country deserve the best treatment from our society. Many military veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

According to the Special Needs Alliance, approximately 30% of veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan were diagnosed with PTSD. These numbers only reflect those with an official diagnosis. It is probably safe to assume that many other veterans are struggling with undiagnosed PTSD.

Understanding PTSD

PTSD can be the result of painful, serious injuries, some of which cause permanent disfigurement or PTSD can result from traumatic experiences while serving. PTSD is classified as a mental health issue that develops after witnessing or participating in a traumatic or life-threatening situation.

For veterans, the event or stressor must have occurred while you were on active duty or serving. You must show that you cannot function as well as you could before the event.

Common side effects of PTSD include difficulty sleeping, focusing or concentrating. These effects are often so bad that veterans have trouble seeking or maintaining employment.

PTSD also affects relationships with others, such as friends, family and employers. One of the biggest challenges of PTSD is that it usually does not just go away on its own and there is no cure for it, even if you are undergoing treatment.

If you are a military veteran and this sounds like your situation, you might qualify for disability benefits. PTSD is a recognized disability and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is available to veterans who qualify for it.

SSDI is different from Veteran’s Affairs Disability benefits, which are administered by a different part of the government. However, you can apply for both types of benefits.

However, qualifying for SSDI as a veteran can be challenging. Your PTSD must be at a level that it will not allow you to return to work for a certain period, even up to the rest of your life.

Substantial gainful activity

Your PTSD must prevent you from performing any substantial gainful activity. This generally means that you cannot hold down a job or career.

This can be a high standard to meet, since in addition to showing that you can no longer perform the work you did before, you must show that you cannot perform any type of work. Today many jobs are remote, involving employees working from home in front of a computer screen all day with minimal human interaction.

Some might believe that a job like this is low stress and could be performed by almost anyone. You must show that your PTSD prevents you from working even an objectively low stress job.

Even if your PTSD meets this standard, you must meet work history requirements, which means you must have enough work history credits built up from prior employment.

Additionally, the application process involves filling out many forms and meeting several deadlines. Filling out the forms incorrectly or incompletely can mean a delay in the receipt of benefits.

Evidence to prove your disability claim

Medical records, such as records from doctors, social workers and counselors, are all strong forms of evidence that can help you prove your claim for disability based on PTSD.

If you are approved for disability benefits, keep all records as you receive them and keep up with treatment, since you will be required to consistently verify your diagnosis and show you are still entitled to the benefits.


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