If your doctor or your VA disability claim came back with a denial or a PTSD rating that is too low, take a look at the factors that increase veterans’ PTSD ratings.
If you served in the military and you now have post-traumatic stress disorder you may qualify for VA disability compensation. But applying for this compensation can be a confusing process. You may not get a fair disability rating the first time. What do you do if your disability rating is too low?
There are a few things you can do to make sure you get a fair rating for your condition. Read on to learn how to increase a VA disability rating for PTSD.
What we Cover in This Article on How to Increase your PTSD VA Rating:
- What Is PTSD?
- Symptoms of PTSD that Matter to the VA
- How to Qualify for VA Disability
- Getting a Diagnosis
- Proving a Service Connection
- Getting a Medical Nexus
- How VA Disability Ratings Work
- How PTSD Ratings Work
- Appealing a Low or Denied Claim
- What Qualifies for a 10 Percent PTSD Rating?
- What Qualifies for a 30 Percent PTSD Rating
- What Qualifies for a 50 Percent Rating
- What Qualifies for a 70 Percent Rating
- What Qualifies for a 100 Percent Rating
- Tips for a Successful First Application
- Learn How to Increase a VA Disability Rating for PTSD
What Is PTSD?
Before we dive into how to increase your VA disability rating, let’s talk about what PTSD is. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that can be triggered by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. The resulting stress and terror can cause severe disruptions to your life ranging from nightmares and anxiety to flashbacks and panic attacks.
It’s normal to experience some stress or trauma after a disturbing event, but PTSD goes far beyond normal. This condition interferes with your life in severe ways, often for months or even years. It can have an impact on your work, your personal relationships, and every other aspect of your day-to-day functioning.
PTSD isn’t measured by the severity of what you experienced, but by how you handle it. Everyone is affected by different events in different ways, so you don’t have to feel shame for the way you react compared to other people that were in the same place. PTSD and Military Sexual Trauma travel together often too, even though the events are usually very secretive in nature.
Symptoms of PTSD that Matter to the VA
PTSD symptoms can vary widely, depending on your specific case and the severity of your condition. Intrusive memories are one of the most common symptoms. These are unpleasant memories of the event that you cannot control and which may take the form of flashbacks or nightmares.
You may also notice that you’re more on edge; that you feel hopeless, numb, or detached; or that you have trouble feeling joy. You may always be on guard for danger, and you might find yourself engaging in self-destructive behavior to cope. Many people with PTSD have trouble sleeping, and you may even begin to have thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
How to Qualify for VA Disability
If you served in the military and you now have PTSD, you may be eligible for compensation from the VA. To get this compensation, you must prove to the VA that your condition is serious and that it is the result of your military service. There are three primary qualifications you must meet to get this compensation.
First of all, you must have an official diagnosis of your condition from a VA-approved medical professional. Then you must be able to prove a service connection for your disability. And finally, you must get a medical nexus from your doctor connecting the two.
The Nexus Letter is like the missing link to a successful VA disability compensation claim. In this video, one of our veteran’s disability lawyers explains the importance of the Nexus Letter.
Getting a Diagnosis
If you believe you may have PTSD, the first thing you need to do is make an appointment with your family doctor. They will likely begin by performing some tests to rule out any physical problems that may be causing your symptoms. From there, they will be able to refer you to a qualified mental health professional who can diagnose you.
You will need to get your diagnosis from a VA-approved medical professional. In most cases, a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist will meet these requirements, especially if your family doctor referred you to that person. They will talk to you about the symptoms you’ve been having, as well as the events leading up to these new symptoms.
Proving a Service Connection
Once you have an official PTSD diagnosis, you’ll need to be able to prove a service connection for your condition. In essence, a service connection is a specific incident or set of circumstances that could have caused your condition. In the case of PTSD, almost any aspect of military service is enough to be a service connection.
If you served in a combat zone, were taken prisoner, or lost friends in the service, those can all qualify as service connections. Harsh service conditions, such as poor hygiene conditions or inhumane discipline can also qualify. The incident you use as your service connection will need to be something documented in your military records.
Getting a Medical Nexus
With your service connection in hand, it’s time to get your medical nexus. A medical nexus is a statement from your doctor affirming that your condition was at least as likely as not caused by the incident in your service record. This prevents veterans from claiming VA disability for conditions that began after they left the military.
You may want to get your military records before your diagnosis appointment with your doctor. This way, he or she can review your service records the same day and provide a medical nexus if it’s appropriate. This can save you time and help you start getting the compensation you deserve sooner.
How VA Disability Ratings Work
Once the VA approves your disability compensation application, they will assign you a disability rating. This rating is expressed as a percentage, and it represents the amount your disability disrupts your ability to live a normal, healthy life. The higher the percentage, the more severe your condition.
In general, VA disability ratings are rounded to the nearest 10 percent for compensation purposes. They can range from 10 percent to 100 percent. Your disability rating will be the primary determining factor when the VA is calculating how much compensation you will receive each month.
Here is a video explaining how the VA combined ratings table works from one of our Veterans Disability Lawyers.
How PTSD Ratings Work
PTSD ratings work a little differently than other VA disability ratings. In the case of many ratings, you can receive a rating anywhere between 10 and 100 percent, depending on your symptoms. But in the case of PTSD, your rating will fall into one of five tiers: 10 percent, 30 percent, 50 percent, 70 percent, and 100 percent.
There are specific symptoms of PTSD which fit into each of the five different tiers. These tiers are mostly based on your ability to maintain a job and healthy personal relationships. They also focus on how frequent panic attacks are and whether you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Appealing a Low or Denied Claim
If you send in an application to the VA and it comes back denied, don’t worry. You can always appeal this decision and submit more evidence to support your case. You can also appeal a rating if you feel it’s too low.
Whether or not you plan to appeal your decision, be sure to hang onto your denial or award letter. This letter will contain important information about why the VA made the decision they did about your case. You can use this to determine what new evidence you need to submit with your appeal.
Here, one of our VA disability lawyers talks about what we do when we appeal your case to the Veteran’s Administration.
What Qualifies for a 10 Percent PTSD Rating?
The lowest rating the VA awards for a PTSD diagnosis is 10 percent. If you receive a 10 percent rating, it means the VA thinks your PTSD causes only mild occupational and social impairment. They recognize that you may not be able to work as effectively, but they believe this is only during periods of significant stress.
If you receive a 10 percent rating and believe it is too low, you may not have provided enough evidence showing how much your condition disrupts your work life. The VA may also award this rating if you can control your symptoms with continuous medication use. If this is the case, your rating may be fair, even if your symptoms are more severe when you’re off your medication.
What Qualifies for a 30 Percent PTSD Rating
The next tier for PTSD ratings is a 30 percent rating. The VA will give you this rating if you can usually work efficiently, with intermittent periods where you struggle. Symptoms for this tier can include depression, anxiety, panic attacks once a week or less, sleep problems, and mild memory loss.
If you believe your 30 percent rating was too low, you may need to provide a more accurate estimate of how often your panic attacks occur. You might also need to get statements from your loved ones and coworkers discussing changes in your interactions. Your boss may also need to send in a statement discussing how much difficulty you have performing tasks on a consistent basis.
What Qualifies for a 50 Percent Rating
The middle tier for PTSD ratings is a 50 percent rating. At this tier, you may have difficulty communicating, showing speech impairments, or a flattened affect. You have panic attacks more than once a week, you have serious memory problems, you have trouble maintaining relationships, and you can’t follow complex instructions.
If you feel a 50 percent rating is too low, your appeal may need to focus on any suicidal thoughts you suffer. You may not have done enough to show how constant your anxiety and panic are, and you might need to focus more on any rituals you feel compelled to follow. Your family might also need to send in statements about the impact your condition has on your relationships with them.
What Qualifies for a 70 Percent Rating
A 70 percent rating is the second-highest tier the VA will award for PTSD. At this tier, a veteran can’t lead a normal life in any area of their life, including work, family, and even judgment. They may follow obsessive rituals that interfere with their life, they may have impulse control issues, they might start to neglect their personal hygiene, and they may have suicidal thoughts.
It’s very difficult to make the jump from a 70 percent rating to a 100 percent rating. If you feel your 70 percent rating is too low, you need to work to show that your veteran is completely incapable of caring for themselves. Documentation of a permanent institutionalization may be helpful in increasing this rating.
How to get TDIU for PTSD from the VA according to a veterans disability lawyer:
What Qualifies for a 100 Percent Rating
A 100 percent rating is the highest the VA will award for PTSD or any other condition. In order to qualify for a 100 percent rating, a veteran with PTSD must have total occupational and social impairment. They must be completely unable to hold down a job or maintain normal, healthy relationships.
A veteran with a 100 percent rating will be in constant danger of hurting themselves or others. They will only be able to perform basic daily tasks like bathing on occasion. They may also have severe memory loss, including forgetting close relatives or even their own name.
Tips for a Successful First Application
The best thing you can do to make sure your disability compensation application is successful is to be completely honest about your symptoms. You need to give the VA a complete picture of how severely your PTSD is impacting your life. This means including information about all your symptoms, even – or especially – if they’re embarrassing or sensitive.
It’s also a good idea to get “buddy statements” from your loved ones supporting your claim. These testimonies can show the VA the real impact your condition has on your life from several different perspectives. Ask your family, your military buddies, your friends at home, and your work supervisors to write statements for you to include with your application.
When you call us, we work with your family and friends to make the best case for your disability.
A behind the scenes look at who works for you at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm.
Learn How to Increase a VA Disability Rating for PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious condition that can have a debilitating impact on your life. Knowing how to increase a VA disability rating for PTSD can help you get the compensation you deserve. Be sure to be honest about all your symptoms, and include information about any symptoms specifically mentioned in the tiers we discussed.
If you’d like help getting the compensation you deserve, get in touch with us at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm. We fight for veterans every day, and you don’t pay unless we win. Contact us today and start getting the help you need for a successful disability claim the first time.
Yes, with your consent, we can work with your spouse, children, parents, or other party that you approve. We work with all kinds of concerned friends to help get veterans the help they need.
We will look over your records and try to get you a Permanent and Total rating if that’s what your conditions require. Otherwise, we’ll keep in touch so that you’ll be ready for your re-examination in 5 years.
No, despite a rumor going around for a few years on Reddit that the Army gave automatic 50% ratings out for PTSD. Only when you are discharged because of your in-service PTSD are you even close to an automatic rating.