Adjustment disorders can occur when a person has trouble coping with a stressful event, such as a death in the family, divorce or loss of employment. However, is the condition considered disabling? Can people with this disorder receive disability payments?

Is Adjustment Disorder a Disability?

Yes. An adjustment disorder is a mental illness listed in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM classifies adjustment disorder as a trauma- and stress-related condition.

According to the DSM, adjustment disorders involve stress that significantly impairs the way a person functions. The disabling symptoms of an adjustment disorder include trouble sleeping, chronic fatigue and thoughts of suicide. Many symptoms of adjustment disorder are similar to those of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Does Adjustment Disorder Qualify for Disability?

Yes. Because an adjustment disorder is an emotional disability, people with the condition may be eligible to collect Social Security disability insurance. However, these individuals must exhibit symptoms that limit their ability to complete work-related tasks, such as anxiety and fatigue.

Does Adjustment Disorder Qualify for VA Disability?

People with an adjustment disorder may qualify for disability with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These individuals must exhibit symptoms of a chronic adjustment disorder, which includes severe sadness, hopelessness, anxiousness or depression.

However, while the VA recognizes adjustment disorders as disabling conditions, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) does not. Many veterans who experience an adjustment disorder but not PTSD do not receive disability benefits from the DoD because the agency considers an adjustment disorder to be a less severe condition.

How Much Disability Can Someone Receive From the VA?

The amount of money that a person receives from the VA is based on a rating system that assesses the severity of their symptoms. The VA provides benefits for ratings between 0 percent and 100 percent. The higher a veteran falls on this rating scale, the more likely they are to receive financial benefits.

For example, a rating of 10 percent includes mild symptoms of stress that impair a person’s work performance. Conversely, a 100 percent rating is characterized by the presence of stress that prevents people from carrying out social or professional tasks. Those with a 100 percent rating may deal with recurring hallucinations, severe confusion and consistent threats of self-harm.

Kolb, Ruth F. “Adjustment Disorders.” (n.d.) Accessed February 20, 2019.

Disability Help Group. “Veterans Disability: The Debate of Chronic Adjustment Disorder.” February 19, 2016. Accessed February 20, 2019.

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