7% of veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives. That is higher than the incidence of PTSD in the general population, which is 6% of adults.
The good news is that veterans with PTSD symptoms may qualify for VA disability benefits. The first step is to get an official diagnosis. Then, you need to provide information of the stressful event consider the “stressor” in service. Providing this information is crucial to the claim as the stressor is the added pillar when trying to prove service connection for PTSD.
Qualifying for VA disability for PTSD can help you cover health care costs, especially treatments for your disorder. You may also be eligible for compensation depending on the severity of your symptoms.
If you are wondering how to apply for VA disability and maximize your rating, you need to read this article. We’ll also explain how to get the most out of your disability benefits.
Who Qualifies for VA Disability for PTSD?
Veterans who experience symptoms of PTSD can qualify for disability benefits. To be eligible, you must meet all of the following criteria:
- You experienced a traumatic event during service
- You received an official PTSD diagnosis connected to your service
- Your symptoms impair your ability to function
According to the CDC, traumatic events cause significant amounts of stress. The VA considers war zone deployment a traumatic event. Military sexual trauma and training accidents can also lead to PTSD.
To receive a PTSD diagnosis, you must present with one or more symptoms of the disorder. These symptoms include intrusive memories of the event, distressing nightmares, flashbacks, and psychological distress.
Avoidant behavior, mood swings, negative thought patterns, and inappropriate arousal are also common symptoms. If you present with these symptoms, a medical professional or psychologist may diagnose you with PTSD.
How Do You Apply for PTSD VA Benefits?
Qualifying for PTSD VA benefits requires you to first file a disability compensation claim. Then, you must fill out either VA Form 21-0781 or 21-0781a, as well as a disability benefits questionnaire.
Here’s what you need to know about these forms.
Fill Out Form 21-0781 or 21-0781a
These forms are specific to veterans with PTSD diagnoses. You will need to discuss the traumatic event, how it connects to your service, and your symptoms.
Form 21-0781 is called Statement in Support of Claim for Service Connection for PTSD. Anyone with PTSD that is not due to assault should use this form. Form 21-0781a is for people who have developed PTSD due to assault.
What Are VA Disability Ratings for PTSD?
The VA uses a rating system to determine the level of benefits you’re eligible for based on your symptoms. PTSD ratings can be 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%. A 100% rating is also known as a 100% percentage and total benefits.
A 10% rating applies to veterans who, when undergoing significant stress, can’t perform their work tasks as normal.
A 30% rating means that the person is occasionally unable to work as normal. Vets with this rating may experience mild symptoms such as depression, anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks, sleep issues, or mild memory loss.
Veterans who are unreliable and unproductive at work due to their symptoms may receive a 50% rating. They experience moderate symptoms such as flat affect, weekly panic attacks, and significant memory impairment.
70% ratings are for veterans who experience moderate to severe symptoms of PTSD. They may have trouble in multiple aspects of their lives, including work, social situations, interpersonal relationships, and more.
Vets who receive a 70% rating may experience suicidal ideation and obsessive-compulsive-like symptoms. They may have trouble speaking, experience constant panic attacks, neglect their hygiene, and more.
The VA reserves 100% benefits for the most severe symptoms of PTSD. Vets who receive this rating are totally impaired in terms of their work and social lives.
Tips for Maximizing Your PTSD Disability Rating
Your PTSD disability rating determines the level of benefits you receive. As such, many veterans are always looking for ways to increase their ratings.
One way to increase your rating is to fill out all the required forms thoroughly. Get statements from as many people as you can, including your physician, family, friends, co-workers, managers, and former service colleagues.
Otherwise, you can increase your rating via your symptoms or your ability to work. If you don’t receive the rating you want, you can also consider appealing it. Here’s what you need to know about each of these strategies.
The VA places a lot of weight on symptoms when determining your rating. But we are not just talking about the qualitative aspect of symptoms or how you feel. The VA also considers the following quantitative aspects:
- The severity of your symptoms
- The frequency of your symptoms
- The duration of your symptoms
The time between symptoms and your capacity for re-adjustment between symptoms may also play a role in your rating.
To maximize your rating based on your symptoms, make sure you are as honest and thorough as possible. Leaving out any symptoms you experience could negatively impact your rating.
The only way to earn a 100% rating from the VA is to prove unemployability (IU). Even if you don’t qualify for a 100% rating based on the VA’s criteria, you can still receive one if you prove IU.
If you are unable to work due to your PTSD symptoms, you may qualify for IU.
Appeal Your Rating
If the VA rejects your claim or gives you a low rating, you can appeal. You only have one year to appeal from the date you received the rejection or rating.
The downside to making an appeal is that it can be costly. You must work with an accredited claims agent or legal professional.
If you want to save money, time, and energy, it’s critical to make a strong case in the first place. That’s where Veterans Education Veterans comes in.
Veterans Educating Veterans Can Help You With Your Claim
Veterans who experienced a traumatic experience and developed PTSD symptoms from it are eligible for VA benefits. Filing a VA DBQ and being honest about your symptoms can help support your case and maximize your rating.
Do you need help ensuring your VA disability for PTSD claim is airtight? We are here for you. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help you get the most out of your VA claim.