How Do I Make a PTSD Claim?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 03 February 2020
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Filing a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) claim consists of two parts: writing a letter outlining symptoms and submitting to a psychological exam. The stress statement and professional exam permit officials to evaluate how PTSD disrupts daily life. A PTSD claim requires a copy of military records, along with an application for benefits, if the disability is service related.

The stress letter might be filed before or along with a PTSD claim. It should clearly explain traumatic events witnessed in the military that led to current coping difficulties. This statement typically details the applicant’s duties in the service and where he or she served. Combat records, including medals or badges earned, help document stressful events. A person held as a prisoner of war might be exempt from proving that a situation provoked stress.

When writing the stress letter, each event should include names of others involved, the length of the situation, and exactly what happened. This information helps officials decide whether the claim is warranted. The applicant can explain how the trauma affects daily life, listing symptoms that interfere with career, family relationships, or social interactions.

Medical records represent another part of the PTSD claim. A doctor’s statement documents symptoms of stress and any treatment received. The record must show the applicant sought treatment but continues to suffer from mental difficulties.


After receiving the claim and stress statement, the office handling the claim schedules a psychological or psychiatric examination to assess the applicant’s level of functioning. The mental health expert compiles a score indicating the extent of disability. If the applicant falls into a certain range, it means he or she cannot work and is entitled to full compensation. Results of the evaluation typically go to a regional office for review and decision, a process that could take six months.

The process for filing a PTSD claim for Social Security benefits mirrors requirements of the military. It consists of three parts outlining details of the traumatic event, physical symptoms, and medical proof of disability. Medical records might document panic attacks linked to memories of a disturbing event. A doctor might confirm physical signs of the applicant’s inability to function.

When someone files a PTSD claim for Social Security disability benefits, the applicant usually must show symptoms persisted for two years or more. The agency also wants information about treatment efforts to address the mental disorder. Medical records can support the claim and speed the process.


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