Is PTSD a disability?

Dec 12, 2022 | Social Security Disability

People often think of disabilities in two main categories: physical and cognitive. For instance, someone who has a spinal cord injury may no longer be able to walk, which is a physical disability. Someone who has a head injury may experience personality changes, brain fog or other mental issues, which may also qualify as a disability in severe cases.

But what about something like posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? This is a response to a traumatic event that can have both mental and physical characteristics. Does it count as a disability?

It does count per the Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration (SSA), does define PTSD as a type of debility disability. They do note that it has to be examined on a case-by-case basis. Just because someone has been through something traumatic doesn’t mean that they will have PTSD. By the same token, just because an outsider believes the event doesn’t sound that traumatic doesn’t mean that a person doesn’t have PTSD. A medical diagnosis will be necessary.

Do you have to experience the event?

Many events leading to PTSD are things that people experience themselves. This disorder first became known in relation to soldiers returning from combat. It was well-known that soldiers who had been through combat had experienced things that had changed them.

But you don’t necessarily have to be involved in the event. If you directly witness a traumatic event, the SSA notes that that is enough to cause you to have PTSD. For example, being involved in a car accident in which a loved one loses their life is traumatic, even if you didn’t have physical injuries yourself.

What options do you have?

If you’re dealing with PTSD, you know how it manifests differently from one person to the next and just how complicated it can be. As you work with your medical team to seek solutions, be sure that you understand all of your legal options, as well.