Working with PTSD

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD involves a change in the body’s natural “flight or flight” in response to fear. When we are in danger, it is natural for us to feel fear. When functioning properly, our body’s reaction to prepare to defend or flee helps protect us from harm.

In people who have developed PTSD, this normal reaction is changed or disrupted. Even when not in danger, people with PTSD may feel stress or fear.

PTSD typically is a result of a terrifying experience which involved either the threat of physical harm or actual physical harm. Someone who has developed PTSD may have been hurt, may have seen a loved one harmed, or the person may have witnessed something frightening or harmful to another.

By it’s very nature, combat and PTSD are often associated with military service. The rate of veterans with PTSD varies based on service area as well as when that person served in the military. Estimates of occurrences of veterans diagnosed with PTSD range from 11-30% of veterans (with variables in service era and military responsibilities).

Why Work?

A person’s ability to work when they have PTSD depends on the severity of their condition and the effectiveness of treatments. However, working can also have a positive effect on mental health. Working offers:

  • Structure and routine
  • A sense of purpose and accomplishment
  • The opportunity to build relationships and community
  • Financial self-sufficiency and security
  • Increased confidence

PTSD can affect anyone and you never know when your symptoms will appear; it is completely understandable that the idea of working can be scary.

Thinking about the following may be helpful when considering working when you have PTSD:

Workplace accommodations: For people with PTSD, these can include:

  • Providing instructions in writing, to help if you have difficulties with memory
  • Allowing you to wear noise-cancelling headphones to help with distracting noises
  • Letting you access apps for anxiety and stress

Social Security’s Ticket to Work

Social Security offers a Ticket to Work program to support career development for people ages 18 through 65 who receive disability benefits from Social Security (SSI or SSDI) and who want to work. This is a free and voluntary program, helping people with disabilities move towards financial independence and connecting them with support and service they need to succeed in the workplace.

Learn more

To learn more about the Ticket program, call the Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

The Ticket program thanks America’s veterans for their service, not only during Military Appreciation Month, but every day. We recognize that you have a lot to offer employers, and encourage you to check out our resources specifically for you in Ticket to Work for America’s Veterans.

*Material adapted from Social Security Ticket to Work Blog dated May 14, 2019
Retrieved May 16, 2019: