If you have experienced a traumatic life event, you may feel disconnected, irritable and depressed, display reckless behavior or have difficulty concentrating. Following a trauma, most people only have a short-term response to the event. However, if you can’t shake the feelings that stem from past trauma, you might have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a mental health condition that triggers severe anxiety, fear, nightmares and disturbing feelings associated with trauma.

PTSD can be severely debilitating. It can impact day-to-day life, including the ability to work. To diagnose PTSD, a doctor will conduct a psychological evaluation along with a physical exam. PTSD symptoms must last for at least one month and significantly disrupt your daily life in order to be diagnosed. You may qualify for Social Security benefits if you have PTSD. It is important that all symptoms be thoroughly documented and included in the disability application.

Documenting your symptoms and limitations

Applying for disability benefits is complicated. Less than half of first-time disability applications are accepted. A standard error many people make is failing to provide adequate proof of the need for benefits. It is essential to include the following evidence:

  • Medical records. Records should consist of psychiatric treatment, doctor’s notes, a current PTSD diagnosis and medical tests such as blood work and x-rays.
  • Employer statement. A statement from your employer explaining how your symptoms affect your concentration, stamina or executive functioning skills will help prove your inability to work.
  • Physician’s statement. Your physician’s report is a vital part of your disability claim. A detailed testimonial from your physician about why you are unable to work will increase your chances of approval.
  • Letters from family and friends. Those closest to you have a unique understanding of how PTSD has impacted your ability to work. Their observations can go a long way in demonstrating the severity of your symptoms.
  • Daily journal. Monitor what triggers your PTSD episodes and how you react and track your feelings.

Don’t hesitate to include any other records that you feel will support your claim. A comprehensive collection of documents will help you avoid having deficiencies in your file and improve your chances of winning your disability benefits.

Knowing how the disability system works will help speed your application through the process. If you don’t know where to turn for help, consider contacting a disability attorney who knows how to navigate the cumbersome Social Security disability application process.