September 2020

Trauma and Stressor-Related
Disorders (PTSD)

Many clients come to us suffering from mental disorders caused by trauma inducing long-term damage.

These trauma and stress related disorders take many forms and often fall under the umbrella of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Some of these clients are veterans suffering from traumatic events while in the service. Others have suffered sexual or mental abuse, or serious work or automobile accidents.

Listing 12.15 contains A criteria focused on diagnosis, B criteria focused upon function and C criteria for people whose symptoms are mitigated by supportive living situations.

SSA will look to the records of the treating psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists for evidence of the trauma, symptoms and impact on functioning. These charts are the core evidence in any application and must be complete in their description of symptoms and limitations.

To meet the A Criteria for diagnosis, the records must document all of the following:

Some of these are not common subjects of treatment but the absence of any one is enough for a Social Security Administrative Law Judge to find that the requirements of the Listing are not satisfied. Therefore, mental health professionals must be carefully exploring these subjects during treatment so that they are documented in the charts.

For Trauma-and Stressor-related disorders, the B Criteria require:

Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning:

Finally, for those living in supportive environments such as group homes which may minimize symptoms the C Criteria provide:

Your mental disorder in this listing category is “serious and persistent;” that is, you have a medically documented history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least 2 years, and there is evidence of both:

As always, the details are important and Social Security’s medical reviewers will carefully review the medical charts to make sure each provision is satisfied before conceding that the Listing is met.


Offices are still closed, and hearings are being conducted by telephone. Telephonic hearings will be in place for the foreseeable future, and we do not expect in-person hearings before the year-end. SSA assures us that anyone scheduled for a telephone hearing can switch back to in-person when the agency again offers this option. We are noticing increasing backlogs at the initial application and reconsideration levels, which are not helpful.

Call or email today!

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