Military veterans suffering from service-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are likely to qualify for compensation from the VA. However, due to how the VA examines benefits applications, many vets do not receive the full compensation they deserve.
VA benefits are provided according to the veteran’s disability rating, which is expressed as a percentage. A 100% VA disability rating can mean thousands of dollars in added benefits each year.
If you know a veteran who is disabled by PTSD symptoms and does not have a 100% VA disability rating or its equivalent, you should speak to an experienced disability benefits attorney. The Disability Law Group helps veterans in Michigan file claims for PTSD disability, including in Macomb County, Wayne County, and Oakland County and across the nation. Contact us today to find out how to increase your loved one’s VA disability rating for PTSD.
What Is PTSD According to the VA?
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event. Deployment in a war zone, combat, training accidents, and military sexual trauma may lead to PTSD, the VA’s National Center for PTSD says.
The VA considers a vet to have experienced a traumatic event if he or she suffered a serious injury, personal or sexual trauma, or was threatened with injury, sexual assault, or death.
PTSD can produce a broad range of symptoms including:
- Re-experiencing trauma, such as flashbacks, nightmares, or intrusive thoughts about the event
- Heightened emotions such as being easily startled or angered, having difficulty concentrating, or having difficulty sleeping
- Emotional numbness or avoidance of certain triggers for re-experiencing the trauma.
A veteran may qualify for VA disability benefits if he or she has symptoms related to a traumatic event and:
- The highly stressful event happened during military service, and
- The vet can’t function as well as they once could because of their symptoms, and
- A doctor has diagnosed the veteran with PTSD.
Understanding the VA Disability Rating for PTSD
The VA assigns benefit applicants a disability rating based on the severity of their service-connected condition. The VA disability rating determines how much disability compensation the veteran receives each month, as well as their eligibility for other VA benefits.
A 100% disability rating means the veteran’s physical and/or mental disability makes it impossible for them to maintain substantially gainful employment. The VA defines “substantially gainful” employment as employment that people who are not disabled ordinarily undertake to earn their livelihood and which pays at a rate common to that particular occupation.
The VA rates veterans with disabilities due to mental disorders as 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100% disabled.
Under federal law, a veteran who is released from active military service because of a mental disorder that develops in service as a result of a highly stressful event, such as PTSD, is automatically assigned a disability rating of 50% and reexamined in six months.
A 50% rating applies to occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity due to such symptoms as:
- Panic attacks more than once a week
- Difficulty understanding complex commands
- Impairment of short- and long-term memory
- Disturbances of motivation and mood
- Difficulty establishing and maintaining effective work and social relationships.
A 100% rating means total occupational and social impairment. The symptoms include:
- Gross impairment in thought processes or communication
- Persistent delusions or hallucinations
- Grossly inappropriate behavior
- The persistent danger of hurting oneself or others
- Disorientation to time or place.
How To Get the Highest Disability Rating for PTSD
VA disability ratings are based on the severity of symptoms.
The primary evidence submitted to the VA to establish a veteran’s disability comes from doctors who have examined the vet and completed a Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ). These forms, which have recently been updated, are specialized according to the disability, meaning there is a specific DBQ for PTSD examinations.
If the VA questions or disputes evidence a veteran submits, it can order an examination by its own physicians. This exam is known as a C&P, or “compensation and pension” exam.
Our attorneys work closely with medical specialists and can obtain medical evidence to help you receive the highest rating possible. Whether you are preparing an initial application for disability benefits or appealing a VA disability rating decision, our dedicated attorneys at Disability Law Group stand ready to assist you. We have years of experience handling VA disability cases and are proud to stand up for the men and women who served our nation.
Qualifying for Individual Unemployability in Lieu of a 100% PTSD Rating
A veteran who cannot maintain substantially gainful employment due to a service-connected illness or injury may qualify for Individual Unemployability. The veteran may be able to get disability benefits just as a veteran who has a 100% disability rating would.
A rating of Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) requires:
- At least one service-connected disability rated at 60% or more, or two or more service-connected disabilities — one rated at 40% or more and producing a 70% or higher rating when combined, and
- Inability to hold down substantially gainful employment because of a service-connected disability.
Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability also may be available if the veteran cannot work because of other circumstances, such as frequent hospitalization due to PTSD symptoms.
Contact Us About a Proper VA Disability Rating for PTSD
If your loved one is disabled by service-connected PTSD, we can help you ensure that he or she is paid the full government benefit promised to them. The experienced attorneys of Disability Law Group are knowledgeable about both VA and Social Security Disability benefits and how best to recover disability payments that will ensure your and your family’s financial security.
Please contact us by phone or email, or fill out one of the contact forms on our website, so we can get started helping help you and your family.