Can You Get Social Security Disability for PTSD in Indiana_ Image

If you live in Indiana and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), can you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits? The answer is yes – you can receive SSDI for PTSD and other psychological disabilities. However, to do so, you’ll need to prove that your PTSD has been properly diagnosed and meets specific criteria laid out in the Social Security Act. An experienced Social Security Disability attorney can help get your documents in order and make your case for benefits.

What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

The National Institute of Mental Health defines PTSD as a fear response that continues long after the event that caused trauma. People most often associate PTSD with combat veterans, but it’s also common among sexual assault and abuse survivors, as well as those who experienced injuries in traumatic accidents like car crashes.

Even if a traumatic event didn’t happen to you personally, a doctor could still diagnose you with PTSD. For example, children may develop PTSD if something terrible happens to their parents, siblings, or friends.

For a doctor to diagnose a patient with PTSD, the patient’s symptoms must meet specific criteria, including:

  • The symptoms must last for more than one month
  • The symptoms must interfere with the patient’s daily life
  • The symptoms must not have other causes

According to the National Center for PTSD, about 6 percent of adults in the U.S. will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. In other words, this is a widely known and accepted disorder, but does it count as a disability? 

Is PTSD Considered a Disability?

For your PTSD to be considered a disability under the Social Security Act (SSA), it must meet additional criteria beyond those required for a diagnosis. SSA Section 223(d)(1) defines a disability as an inability to engage in substantial gainful activity due to any medically determinable physical or mental impairment. This section of the act goes on to state that the physical or mental impairment must:

  • Last for more than 12 continuous months
  • Prevent you from doing your previous job
  • Prevent you from getting and doing any other kind of job
  • Be provable by medical diagnostic techniques

However, before getting to this point, you also have to prove that your PTSD is a mental disorder or impairment. The way to do this is to undergo a disability evaluation. Depending on your specific PTSD, the Social Security Administration may evaluate you for either an anxiety disorder or trauma- and stressor-related disorder.

Anxiety Disorders

To fall under this category, you must have medical documentation proving that you have a general anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. If your PTSD doesn’t stem from a violent or life-threatening event, it would likely be in this category.

Additionally, you must have documentation proving that you have an extreme limitation in one of the following areas:

  • Understanding, remembering, or applying information
  • Interacting with others
  • Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace
  • Adapting or managing yourself

Or, you can provide proof of all of the following instead:

  • You have a history of PTSD over at least two years
  • You are undergoing medical, therapy, or other structured treatment
  • You do not have much capacity to adapt to changes in your environment

Trauma-Related Disorders

To fall under this category, you must have medical documentation proving that all of the following apply:

  • You experienced actual or threatened death, serious injury, or violence
  • You involuntarily re-experience the traumatic event
  • You avoid reminders of the traumatic event
  • You experience disturbances in your mood and behavior
  • You experience an increase in reactivity

You must also prove one of the same additional criteria outlined in the above section on anxiety disorders.

How Much Money Can You Receive for a PTSD Disability?

According to the 2024 Social Security Fact Sheet, the average benefit amount received for Social Security Disability benefits is $1,537. However, your benefit amount will depend on your average lifetime earnings covered by Social Security.

The Social Security Administration will look at up to 35 years of your income to determine your benefit amount. If you have worked for more than 35 years, it will take the highest earning 35. Then, it will add this income together and divide it by the total number of months to get your average indexed monthly earnings.

Your final benefit amount will be a percentage of your average indexed monthly earnings. If you receive other government benefits, like workers’ compensation, the Social Security Administration may reduce your disability benefits. The combined amount you receive for all government benefits cannot exceed 80 percent of your average indexed monthly earnings.

If the Social Security Administration accepts your claim, you should expect to receive your first disability payment after five months.

Supporting Your Social Security Disability Claim with Evidence

Can You Get Social Security Disability for PTSD in Indiana_ Image 2

To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you need to provide extensive documentation. An experienced attorney can help you get your documents together, file your disability claim, and represent you if your claim is denied.

Some pieces of evidence that can support your claim include:

  • Medical records associated with your PTSD diagnosis that demonstrate your symptoms aren’t the result of other injury or illness
  • Witness testimony from your family, friends, and previous employers about how your PTSD affects your daily life and ability to work
  • Reports about your service if you served in the military or as a police officer
  • Documentation and reports from your therapy or other mental health treatment that show your progress

Contact an Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney

PTSD can place significant limitations on your life, including your ability to work. If you have PTSD that makes it difficult to find and hold employment in Indiana, contact Hankey Marks & Crider at (317) 634-8565 for a consultation. One of our Social Security disability attorneys will answer your questions and walk you through everything you need to know about filing your claim.