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How to Determine if a PTSD Claim is Legitimate

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a serious and potentially-disabling condition that affects both military veterans and people who have experienced other types of trauma. However, in some cases, people falsely claim to have PTSD in order to gain benefits they are not entitled to receive, such as disability payments.

When it isn’t clear whether a PTSD claim is legitimate, medical experts must take steps to determine whether or not the individual in question truly suffers from the disorder. According to the DSM-5, individuals must meet several criteria before they can be diagnosed with PTSD. These criteria are labeled “A” through “H.”

  • Criterion A – To satisfy the “A” criterion, the individual must have been exposed to some life-threatening circumstance. This exposure may have occurred with the individual as a victim, witness, or close friend or relative of the victim. Exposure may also occur indirectly, such as with first responders to an accident scene.
  • Criterion B- Individuals meet the “B” criterion if they re-experience the trauma through flashbacks, nightmares, unwanted memories and/or physical or emotional reactions after exposure to traumatic reminders.
  • Criterion C – Meeting the “C” criterion requires an individual to avoid thoughts, feelings or external reminders of the trauma.
  • Criterion D – To meet the “D” criterion, the individual must experience negative thoughts or feelings that either began or got worse after the trauma, such as trouble experiencing positive emotions, feelings of isolation, loss of interest in activities, negative affect or inability to recall details of the trauma.
  • Criterion E – Meeting the “E” criterion requires the individual to show signs of altered reactivity or arousal that began or worsened after the trauma, such as trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, hyper-vigilance, risky behavior, irritability and aggression.
  • Criterion F- To meet the “F” criterion, the individual’s symptoms must have lasted for more than one month at the time of the diagnosis.
  • Criterion G – If the individual’s symptoms create functional impairment or significant distress, he or she satisfies the “G” criterion.
  • Criterion H – An individual meets the “H” criterion if his or her symptoms are not due to another illness, medication or substance abuse.