Denied Social Security Disability for PTSD?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) manages the federal government’s disability programs for disabled workers and adults. An adult who cannot work to support themselves could qualify for monthly monetary benefits. Qualifying disabilities include many different physical conditions and several mental disabilities. 

If you have PTSD, you may have applied for Social Security disability in Pennsylvania. However, it can be challenging to qualify for Social Security disability for PTSD. 

Many applicants must appeal a denial of Social Security disability for PTSD at least once, if not twice or more. Hiring an experienced Harrisburg Social Security disability lawyer can improve your chance of being approved. 

What Is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that someone might develop after witnessing or being subjected to traumatic events or circumstances. PTSD can impact a person’s physical, spiritual, mental, and social health. Examples of instances that can cause PTSD include being in combat, terrorist acts, sexual assault, violent car accidents, and natural disasters. 

How Is Someone Diagnosed with PTSD?

Because PTSD is a psychiatric disorder, diagnosing the condition can be difficult. A person with PTSD might develop symptoms immediately after a traumatic event. However, some individuals might not develop PTSD symptoms for months or years after an event.

However, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the symptoms must last more than a month and be severe enough to interfere with a person’s work or relationships to be considered post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Generally, a psychologist or psychiatrist with experience with mental illnesses diagnoses PTSD. The doctor must find that the person has at least the four following conditions for at least one month to diagnose PTSD:

  • One or more symptoms related to re-experiencing the event (i.e., flashbacks or nightmares)
  • One or more avoidance symptoms (i.e., staying away from places or reminders of the event)
  • Two or more symptoms related to reactivity and arousal (i.e., angry outbursts, easily startled, problems sleeping, feeling tense, etc.)
  • Two or more symptoms related to mood and cognition (i.e., loss of interest in activities, negative thoughts about themselves, blaming themselves, etc.)

Social Security disability covers a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. Therefore, you could receive Social Security disability for PTSD. 

However, you must prove that you have PTSD through medical documentation. You must also prove that your PTSD diagnosis meets the SSA’s definition of disabled.

Common Reasons for Denying Social Security Disability for PTSD

The SSA denies PTSD claims for many reasons including, but not limited to:

  • Lack of medical records and other evidence supporting a diagnosis of PTSD.
  • Lack of evidence that the PTSD diagnosis prevents the person from engaging in a gainful activity (i.e., working).
  • Failing to follow a doctor’s treatment plan, including taking prescribed medication, keeping scheduled doctor’s appointments, and attending therapy and/or counseling sessions.
  • Errors and mistakes were made when completing the disability application, including failure to provide the required documents. 
  • Errors were made by the Social Security Administration when processing the claim. 
  • Failing to submit to an independent medical examination.

There could be other reasons why the SSA denied your PTSD claim. It is crucial to read the denial letter to understand your rights and the deadlines for appealing a denial of Social Security disability for PTSD.

Contact us today to schedule your free consultation to discuss your SSD claim.

How Do I Appeal a Denial of Social Security Disability for PTSD?

You have a limited time to file an appeal once the SSA denies your claim for disability benefits. The SSA has four appeal stages:


You have just 60 days to file a Request for Reconsideration. A different SSA examiner reviews your file during this stage in the appeals process. The examiner can approve your claim or deny the claim again.

Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)

If the examiner denies your reconsideration, you have 60 days to request a hearing before an ALJ. Hearings can take place by phone, video, or in person. 

The judge asks questions about your PTSD diagnosis. You can have medical experts and other witnesses testify on your behalf at the hearing.

Review by the Appeals Council

If the ALJ denies your PTSD claim or makes an unfavorable ruling, you have 60 days to request a review by the Appeals Council. The Council reviews your claim and either denies or dismisses your claim or issues a new decision and returns the claim to the ALJ for additional review.

File a Civil Suit in Federal District Court  

You have 60 days to appeal the decision by the Appeals Council. You must file a lawsuit in federal court to challenge the Appeals Council decision. 

The Social Security appeals process can be extremely complicated and time-consuming. A Harrisburg Social Security disability attorney handles all these matters for you. Discussing your case with a lawyer during a free consultation could be the best way to protect your right to receive SS disability benefits.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, please contact Marzzacco Niven & Associates at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:

Harrisburg Law Office
945 East Park Drive, Suite 103 Harrisburg, PA 17111
(717) 231-1640

York Law Office
2550 Kingston Road, Suite 210A York, PA 17401
(717) 995-8998

Wyomissing Law Office
833 N. Park Road, Suite 103, Room A Wyomissing, PA 19610
(717) 388-2325

Chambersburg Law Office
79 St. Paul Drive, Suite 1 Chambersburg, PA 17201
(717) 388-2378

Carlisle Law Office
354 Alexander Springs Road Carlisle, PA 17015
(717) 995-8732

Carbondale Law Office
30 Lincoln Avenue, Suite 101 Carbondale, PA 18407
(717) 995-8810

Lancaster Law Office
2173 Embassy Drive, Ste 123, Lancaster Pa 17603
(717) 616-2954

Lebanon Law Office
937 Willow Street, Suite D Lebanon, PA 17042-1140
(717) 995-8963