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Can you receive Social Security Disability benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder?

Much like physical ailments, certain mental disorders can be extremely disruptive to a person’s life. When these disruptions prevent a person from earning a living, they may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.

Along with many other mental disorders, people experiencing the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can also apply for benefits to cover basic living expenses. The first step is to determine whether what you are experiencing is actually PTSD and understanding the different symptoms allows you to properly address them with a medical professional. Symptoms fall into four categories, as explained here:

  • Intrusive memories/thoughts – Also known as flashbacks, intrusive memories playback the event in the mind of the victim. Flashbacks can sometimes be so vivid a person experiences acute distress. Bad dreams can also manifest reminders of the traumatic event.
  • Avoiding reminders of the event – While intrusive memories occur of their own accord, people with PTSD do everything they can to avoid conscious reminders. If the cause was a car accident, a person may avoid driving or riding in vehicles. If the event is connected to a certain place, the person may seek to avoid it. Many people with PTSD avoid even talking about what occurred.
  • Negativity in thinking & mood – PTSD can cause a feeling of persistent hopelessness, as well as decreased feelings of happiness and contentment. Personal relationships may suffer as a result.
  • Abnormal reactions – Along with feelings of sadness, outbursts of anger or frustration may also occur. In the wake of a traumatic event, self-destructive behavior like excessive drinking and drug-taking can be a factor. Other people may constantly feel under attack and frighten easily over mundane happenings.

PTSD is also associated with certain complications, such as substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. The sooner symptoms are diagnosed, the more responsive a person will be to treatment.