Does Clinical Status Change in Anticipation of a PTSD Disability Examination?

Michele Spoont, Nina A Sayer, David B. Nelson, Barbara A Clothier, Maureen M Nelson, Sean Nugent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Although there has been considerable research on forensic aspects of disability evaluations for mental health claims, there has been little focus on the clinical impact of disability system participation. Using a prospective design, we examined whether disability system participation affected psychiatric symptom and disability levels in claimants filing for VA disability benefits on the basis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Claimants had high levels of PTSD symptoms and disability at the time of claim initiation. Modest increases in illness severity were observed at the time of the disability examination. Factors associated with symptom change were income level and employment status. Negative expectations about the disability claims process were associated with severity of PTSD symptoms, but not with change in symptom levels over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-59
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological Services
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2008


  • PTSD
  • disability evaluation
  • expectancies
  • symptoms


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