Some Experts Now Think That Most Veterans Who Served Active Duty During Wartime Will At Some Point Suffer From Ptsd
By Jean C. ONeill, Contributing Author
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs , Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is the most common mental health problem suffered by troops returning from combat. If you are a veteran of the United States Armed Forces, and have developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of your service, you are likely eligible for veterans disability benefits.
Va Disability Compensation For Ptsd
Posttraumatic stress can happen after someone goes through a traumatic event such as combat, an assault, or a disaster. Most people have some stress reactions following trauma. But if the reactions dont go away over time or they disrupt your life, you may have posttraumatic stress disorder . Find out if you can get disability compensation or benefits if you have symptoms of PTSD.
Is Ptsd An Automatic 50% Rating
Many veterans are under the impression that they can receive an automatic PTSD rating of 50 percent. Unfortunately, this is not entirely accurate as there are specific circumstances under which the automatic 50 percent rating applies.
According to VA regulation titled 38 CFR § 4.129, when a mental disorder that develops in service as a result of a highly stressful event is severe enough to bring about the veterans release from active military service, the rating agency shall assign an evaluation of not less than 50 percent and schedule an examination within the six month period following the veterans discharge to determine whether a change in evaluation is warranted.
In other words, an automatic 50 percent rating will only be granted to veterans if they were discharged from military service due to their PTSD.
Additionally, this automatic 50 percent disability rating will only last for six months following the veterans separation from service. After six months have passed, VA will conduct a new PTSD evaluation to determine the veterans current condition. While it is possible that the veteran will again be assigned a 50 percent rating for their PTSD, it is also possible that the rating will be reduced.
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Tip #: Dont Take Bad Advice From Your Buddy At The Vfw
You may be rolling your eyes, but weve heard some whoppers over the years from clients drinking buddies at the VFW. While your friend is probably an awesome guy, he likely isnt a VA-certified disability attorney. Dont let your PTSD VA disability benefits claim get screwed up because you took some untrue advice.
Understanding The General Rating Formula For Mental Health Conditions
Before diving into the VAs rating system for PTSD, its important to understand their general rating formula for mental disorders. This is because VA determines rating levels by using the General Rating Formula. This is where VA takes the symptoms of any mental health condition and translates them into a rating.
The VA disability ratings for PTSD can be 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%. Transparency about your worst symptoms is vital for your rating. VA often rates veterans by the average of their symptoms. So, if a veteran has such symptoms that fall in the 30, 50, and 70% ranges, they will often get a 50% rating. However, this is not the correct way to rate a mental health disorder.
The basis of a rating is the highest level of symptoms, not an average. So, if a veteran has six symptoms at 30%, three at 50%, and two at 70%, a 70% rating is proper. Also, the VA cannot downplay symptoms and give the veteran a lower rating.
For example, if a veteran has suicidal ideations, that is a 70% rating. However, VA doctors sometimes state that the veteran does not have intent or that the ideations are fleeting. The VA will sometimes grant a lower rating by minimizing the symptom altogether. It is, nevertheless, a 70% rating if a veteran has suicidal ideationsno matter the frequency or intent.
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What You Should Do
* If you take psychiatric medications, be sure to keep taking them as prescribed on the days leading up to the exam and on the day of the exam.
* If the examiner asks you to complete questionnaires, tests, inventories, etc., make sure you understand the instructions before you begin answering. Most such questionnaires are fairly easy to understand and complete, just dont rush through them. At the same time, dont agonize over each item. Usually the first response that comes to your head will be the best one.
> Neither minimize symptoms and problems nor over-report them. If youre not sure if you have a particular symptom as described on a questionnaire or test, its probably better to not endorse it.
> If you are asked to complete tasks, such as remembering a group of words, drawing figures, or saying as many birds as you can think of in one minute, do your best. The psychologist will probably know if you pretend to have really bad memory or another cognitive problem.
Do Va Examiners Always Do Multiple Psy Tests
VA examiners do not always administer multiple tests to determine if a veteran is malingering. If a veteran scores M-FAST score of 6 or higher, the VA doctor may report the veteran is possibly malingering. Because that one word is now a part of the veterans claims file, the PTSD claim will be even more difficult to win. The veteran will likely need an independent medical opinion that refutes the allegation of malingering.
The Army recognized this back in 2012. It issued policy guidance on the assessment and treatment of PTSD. The memo stressed that the diagnosis of malingering should not be made unless there is substantial and definitive evidence from collateral or objective sources that there are false or grossly exaggerated symptoms that are consciously produced for external incentives. The memo noted that there is considerable evidence that malingering is rare among veterans and that malingering is unlikely to be a factor in the vast majority of disability determinations. Even the VA concedes that Vietnam veterans may have elevated scores on tests due to their chronic post-traumatic difficulties. In fact, no test for malingering exists which can reliably tell which symptoms are being exaggerated. Tests like the M-FAST, MMPI-2, PAI, and TSI are the best available. That said, the tests findings can easily result in labeling veterans with genuine PTSD as malingers.
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Dont Exaggerate Your Symptoms
Weve seen several C& P exams where the examiner accuses the veteran of malingering, or exaggerating his or her symptoms. Often, this is NOT the case. However, if an examiner BELIEVES you are malingering, it may affect the entire report. Doctors use exams, such as the MMPI, on veterans who they think are malingering. This will obviously negatively affect your claim.
You May Qualify For Legal Assistance
A VA accredited attorney can ensure you receive the maximum disability payment each month for your PTSD. VBA records show the VA assigned 1 in 8 veterans the wrong disability rating within the past year. If you cant afford to wait for much-needed benefits or believe youre owed more money, contact a lawyer today. We can match you with an attorney who works on contingency for a free, no-obligation phone call. That way, you can get free claim advice that applies to your situation without ever leaving your home!
If the VA doesnt approve your benefits application, youll owe $0 for legal assistance. And if you do win, then youll only pay a small, one-time fee.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now!
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Automatic 50 Ptsd Rating
Many veterans have heard that VA Disability rules allow for an automatic 50 percent disability rating for PTSD. However, there are actually no ratings for PTSD that are considered automatic, because any veteran diagnosed with PTSD must meet specific rating criteria that is based on their level of social and occupational impairment as a result of their condition.
Reach Out To An Experienced Attorney
Service-related PTSD often causes severe disabilities. For a free consultation with an experienced VA disability lawyer in San Diego, contact the Veterans Law Group. We represent veterans on a nationwide basis.
“I was happy Veterans Law Group was able to work through the VA bureaucracy to obtain my new rating.”
Royal W.|Yankee Hill, CA
“Although it took a while for the result to come out, VLG was able to accomplish my expectations for a 100% rating. Due to complex medical issues, I appreciate the care you took so I did not have to appear personally in the VA local office or VA court. I am quite satisfied. I feel I am not shortchanged anymore.”
Valued Client|Perris, CA
- We represent cases at all levels on appeal
- Well obtain additional medical opinion evidence, when needed
- Well arrange for Vocational Rehab experts to assist, when needed
- Free Consultation
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How Does The Va Rate Ptsd
After service connection has been provided for a veteran diagnosed with PTSD, the VA must assign a rating. This rating is an important part of the process, as it has an impact on average impairment in earning capacity. The current system allows the Veterans Affairs officials to assign PTSD ratings of 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, or 100% disabling.
Like the initial diagnosis, PTSD ratings depend on several factors:
- Thought process or communication impairment
- Suicidal thoughts
- Persistent risk of harming self or others
- Loss of memory
Occupational Impairment Factors Are More Important For Va Ptsd Rating Purposes
Ive reviewed hundreds, if not thousands of Veterans C-Files.
When the VA PTSD rating is too low, a common reason I have seen is that the veteran focused on the social impairment factors, and not the occupational impairment factors.
Take a look at all the factors in the 50% category for PTSD.
In addition to equating those symptoms to your social life , relate them to your ability or inability to get or keep a job.
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What If My Va Disability Rating Seems Too Low
If your symptoms place your rating at a level that does not reflect your disability, we can help. Veterans who experience PTSD often must appeal their rating decision to be paid the benefits they are entitled to because of their service. To find out if we can help you, email us at or call 933-5405 for a free evaluation of your claim today. We serve Veterans from all across the country.
Tips For Your C& P Appointment
During your C& P exam, you will likely meet with a medical or mental health professional to discuss your illness, injury, or psychological disorder. Its also likely that the doctor will perform a physical exam. Its important to know your objective when reporting for the examto communicate your situation as precisely and accurately as you can, being as complete as possible.
You probably wont have a great deal of time to explain your case, so its critical that you come prepared for this appointment. Its your opportunity to present your situation, in detail, and all that youve been experiencing. Remember that the person seeing you needs to understand how your injury or illness affects your daily life, your routines, your work, and your relationships.
Here are some tips to help your appointment go smoothly and promote a more favorable outcome for your claim:
At Cuddigan Law, we understand how critical it is for veterans to get disability benefits. Thats why we provide free information to help veterans with their claims. Download our free book, The Essential Guide to VA Disability Claims, or call us today at to ask us a question about your disability case.
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How To Write Your Statement
Write very clearly, or type on a computer if you can. Describe the traumatic events in the order that they happened. Tell where the event happened, what unit you were in at the time, and when it happened . Provide as much detail as you can and also describe the feelings you had about what happened.
Don’t diminish the stressful experience you had and don’t make it seem even more severe than it was. Just tell exactly what occurred and that will be very effective.
How Is Anxiety Different Than Ptsd
When the average person hears anxiety, we start thinking pre-existing issues like Generalized Anxiety Disorder among others. Unlike PTSD, traumatic events dont necessarily have to happen for a person to experience anxiety symptoms. The difference between PTSD and anxiety can be tricky to pinpoint, especially when soldiers with history of mental health issues like anxiety are then exposed to extremely traumatic experiences in their military service. Their symptoms may be re-aggravated or made worse. Because every person is different and reacts differently to situations based on their coping skills, morals, values, and experiences in life reactions to those events will be different as well. Where one person may not have any lasting mental health condition to an event, another may develop PTSD. We do not know what causes one person to develop certain conditions and others to not, but we continue to try to understand and treat them.
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What If Your Symptoms Are Consistent With More Than One Ptsd Rating
Since PTSD is a complex condition and many of the symptoms within the rating criteria overlap, you may not fall completely into one percentage category. For example, you may experience mild memory loss in addition to impaired judgment and flattened affect, meaning your symptoms are consistent with both a 30 percent and a 50 percent rating on the PTSD rating scale.
Since it is not possible to split the difference between the two ratings, VA must choose one to award. In these cases, VA should award the higher rating based on 38 CFR § 4.7. Specifically, when there is a question as to which of two evaluations should be applied, the higher evaluation will be assigned if the disability more clearly meets the criteria required for that rating.
What If I Am Unable To Work Due To My Ptsd But Do Not Meet The Criteria For A 100 Percent Schedular Disability Rating
If the VA has granted you a 70 percent schedular disability rating for PTSD, and you do not meet the criteria for a 100 percent schedular disability rating under the above General Rating Formula For Mental Disorders but are still unable to work, you may be eligible for a TDIU rating, which results in 100 percent compensation on permanent and total basis. A veteran is entitled to a TDIU rating when he or she is unable to work due to the effects of his or her service-connected impairments on his or her occupational functioning. If you are unable to work due to your service-connected PTSD symptoms, you are eligible to receive a TDIU rating, which will pay you 100 percent compensation even though you do not meet the criteria for a 100 percent schedular disability rating, i.e., you are unable to work due to your PTSD but do not have persistent delusions or auditory or visual hallucinations, etc.
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Percent Va Disability Rating For Ptsd
Total occupational and social impairment, due to such symptoms as:
- gross impairment in thought processes or communication
- persistent delusions or hallucinations
- persistent danger of hurting self or others
- intermittent inability to perform activities of daily living
- disorientation to time or place
- memory loss for names of close relatives, own occupation, or own name
Ready To Make A Claim 3 Steps To Presenting A Strong Va Ptsd Claim
Now that you know how the VA rates PTSD, its important to understand some best practices for making a claim. Keep in mind that PTSD claims can complicate the already confusing and murky claims process. Even with the new regulations passed in 2010 that make it easier for veterans with PTSD to qualify for VA benefits, a veteran with a PTSD claim will face unique challenges.
So, you can make a strong claim by presenting these three requirements.
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Va Ptsd Increase Tip #: Overprepare For Your Va C& p Exam For Ptsd
Here are my top 5 tips to prepare for your C& P exam for PTSD increase:
#1. Know whats in your medical records! There is no substitute for knowing whats in your service treatment records, VA medical records, or any private medical records.
#2. Review the Disability Benefit Questionnaire for PTSD Review.
#3. Review CFR, Title 38, Part 4, the Schedule for Rating Disabilities for mental health conditions.
#4. Do NOT have your best daythis does NOT mean to lie or stretch the truth. Thats illegal. It means you need to tell the examiner how you are on your very worst days. What does a normal day look like for you? What challenges do you have? Are you struggling at work? If so, why? How are your relationships? Do you have friends? If not, why?
#5. Be UNCOMFORTABLY VULNERABLEand share your uncomfortable truths! Its hard to do, I know, but you must. Why? Because PTSD claims comes down to your current level of Occupational and Social Impairment as well as your Severity of Symptoms. Be ready to talk about your work, life, and social functioning. Be prepared to explain your current symptoms with examples.
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