Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that's caused by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event that usually involves physical harm or the threat of physical harm. People who suffer from PTSD can experience a wide range of symptoms that make everyday life difficult, including:

  • Severe anxiety
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Uncontrollable, intrusive thoughts about the traumatic event
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Emotional numbness
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Feelings of irritability, anger, guilt, and shame
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Self-destructive behavior


Although PTSD is most commonly associated with combat veterans, anyone who has experienced a particularly traumatic event such as a serious car accident, abuse, assault, or a natural disaster can develop the disorder. Most people experience at least one traumatic event in their lives, and many recover with time. However, when serious mental health symptoms linger for months or years and disrupt daily life, they may be a sign of PTSD.

Applying for SS Disability Benefits

When you apply for SS disability due to your PTSD, the medical professional treating you should fill out a residual functional capacity (RFC) form. If you hire a SS disability attorney, he’s likely to use this form when presenting your case to the SSA adjudicator or the judge. Once your doctor fills out the form, it will help give the judge specific information relative to your claim, and your attorney will use it to try and prove that your PTSD makes it impossible for you to work and earn a living

Additionally, the RFC form helps your doctor use specific work capacity language that judges look for when determining your case. That language helps provide important information about your performance on the job and how reliable you are as an employee.

An RFC form should include your diagnosis and symptoms and discuss your ability to:

  • Carry out a regular routine without supervision
  • Concentrate on work-related tasks
  • Understand and follow simple and complex instructions as they relate to your job
  • Interact and communicate appropriately with others, including supervisors and co-workers
  • Have suitable workplace attendance, be punctual, and avoid unscheduled breaks
  • Make simple occupation-related decisions


If you don't include an RFC form filled out by your medical provider with your application for benefits, an SSA medical examiner will complete one using the documentation supplied in your application. However, because physician-completed RFC forms carry more weight, including one with your application is essential to proving your PTSD claim.

Keefe Disability Law Can Help

Applying for SS disability benefits can be a complex and frustrating process. Let the knowledgeable, experienced attorneys at Keefe Disability Law help you secure the benefits you need and deserve. Contact us today for more information or to request a free copy of our eBook, The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 888.904.6847 to schedule your free consultation.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer