About PTSD Stressors
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often the result of a traumatic event while serving in the military. The traumatic event is often called the “stressor.”
To be eligible for PTSD VA disability benefits, you want to show how the stressor has created a change in your life. For example, you used to be social and have friends, but now after the stressor event, you are introverted and distant.
The VA considers the following to be PTSD stressors:
- Exposure to death
- Threatened death
- Actual serious injury
- Threatened serious injury
- Actual sexual violence
- Threatened sexual violence
Combat PTSD Stressors
Combat PTSD stressors can stem from many different events. You do not need to actually be injured to have a stressor that would make you eligible for PTSD veterans disability benefits. If someone other than you was injured, that can be your PTSD stressor.
Many veterans describe their PTSD stressors as an event that keeps replaying in their mind. These painful memories can be hard or impossible to forget. To obtain your VA disability PTSD rating, you are going to have to show the VA you have PTSD and what the PTSD stressors are that caused your condition.
Examples of combat PTSD stressors:
- Enemy ambush in Vietnam
- IED event in Iraq
- Flight deck plane crash in Gulf War
- Seeing another service-member killed
Learn More: Figure out your rating with our VA Disability Calculator
Examples of Non-Combat PTSD Stressors
Remember, PTSD happens in the civilian population as well. If a stressor event happened to you while serving active-duty, your PTSD may be considered service-connected.
For example, suppose you were in a serious car accident while serving active-duty and a fellow service member died. Because you were close to the deceased service member, you had a very tough time getting over their death. Now you have unreasonable fears, anxiety, and depression that is related to the wreck. This scenario may qualify for your PTSD stressors requirement.
Non-combat PTSD stressors:
- Military sexual trauma
- Serious car accidents
- Training accidents
- Victim of rape
- Witnessing a rape
PTSD Stressors vs. PTSD Triggers
Many veterans get PTSD stressors and triggers confused. As mentioned before, the stressor is the event that caused the PTSD. While triggers are what actually trigger the emotions and memories that cause your PTSD. Triggers can include sights, sounds, smells, or thoughts that remind you of the traumatic event in some way.
Example of PTSD triggers:
- Authority conflicts
- Crowded spaces
- Images on TV
- Loud noises
- PTSD stressors anniversary
FAQ: PTSD Stressors & Related Questions
Veterans can claim both PTSD and anxiety when applying for VA disability benefits. Both conditions will fall under the General VA rating formula for mental disorders. PTSD and anxiety often go hand-in-hand and it is very common for veterans to experience both conditions.
Veterans can treat with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professionals to obtain a PTSD diagnosis for VA purposes. The PTSD diagnosis does not have to come from a VA employee to obtain VA disability benefits. Many veterans see private mental health professionals outside the VA system.
Veterans can receive VA ratings of 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, or 100 for PTSD. Your rating will depend upon the severity of your PTSD and how well you present your evidence to the VA. If your initial PTSD rating is low you can appeal the VA’s decision.
The VA can always examine and lower your PTSD rating unless you obtain a permanent rating. Veterans with PTSD may find it difficult to obtain a permanent rating on PTSD disability benefits. The VA believes many mental conditions can be treated through medication and counseling. Most veterans believe otherwise.
Applying for PTSD VA Disability Benefits
When applying for VA disability benefits, make sure you tell the VA about your PTSD stressors. Do not assume the VA is going to connect your PTSD to any specific event. While the VA has a duty to assist, they often do not follow the law.
Make sure you also list all your other physical and mental conditions that could be service-connected. Do not forget to also include your secondary service-connected disabilities as well.
Other conditions often connected to PTSD:
- Bipolar disorder
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Schizoaffective Disorder
- Sleep Apnea
- Substance Abuse
PTSD Stressor Claims Denials and Appeals
Many veterans have their PTSD claim denied – you are not alone. The number of PTSD claims that are denied is staggering. ABC News reported that more PTSD claims are denied than approved. Veterans who are denied have the option to file PTSD VA disability benefits appeals. We highly suggest you consider obtaining better evidence for your appeal. Many veterans claims are denied simply because they didn’t show the correct evidence to prove their PTSD claim.
For PTSD appeals you may consider using experts:
- Doctors Outside the VA: If you were denied using evidence from a VA doctor, you may want to consider getting additional medical documentation of your PTSD. Some veterans feel VA doctors are not impartial. If you can afford to do so, maybe try working with a doctor outside the VA for further reports. Our PTSD lawyers often get a second opinion from doctors outside the VA for our clients.
- Vocational Experts: These experts can write reports detailing how your PTSD is affecting your work life. These reports can show the severity of your PTSD and how it has rendered you unemployable. Our PTSD lawyers often work with vocational experts on client’s claims. These reports often help prove that veterans service-connected disabilities are diminishing their ability to work.
- Psychologists: We can’t tell you how many veterans contact our law firm after being denied because they didn’t have a diagnosis of PTSD. Psychologists can not only get you the proper medical documentation of your diagnosis, but they can also help you treat your PTSD. If you are a veteran with PTSD and are not working with a psychologist, we recommend you consider doing so for your claim and your mental health.
PTSD Benefits For Vets That Can’t Work
Many veterans initially set out to obtain 100% Permanent and Total PTSD ratings, only to find it’s very difficult to do so. The VA believes that many mental conditions will improve over time with treatment. Individual Unemployability is an alternative route to getting paid the same as a 100% VA disability rating for PTSD.
Veterans that cannot work from PTSD and other service-connected impairments should look into Total Disability Individual Unemployability benefits. Eligible veterans will have to show that their service-connected impairments prevent them from keeping or obtaining meaningful employment. These benefits pay the same as a 100% VA disability rating, but your payments will be based upon your ability to work, not just your rating.
PTSD Individual Unemployability benefits are eligible to veterans that are also still working. However, these claims can be harder to prove. You are still going to have to show that your accommodations at work prevent you from keeping or obtaining gainful employment. Many veterans who work and receive IU benefits work for family members. That means they get special accommodations that a normal workplace would not accept. Essentially, veterans who get IU benefits and work are not working full loads or strenuous jobs.
Get Help With Your PTSD Claim
Since 1985, Woods & Woods has successfully represented thousands of disabled veterans. When you call Woods & Woods, you get an experienced VA certified disability attorney. Our PTSD veterans disability benefits lawyers have filed numerous PTSD claims.
You only pay our VA disability lawyers if we win your claim. If you do not obtain benefits, you owe our veterans disability benefits lawyers nothing – not a penny. Our PTSD lawyers will never ask for money upfront and we never bill by the hour. Phone calls are always free.
Whether you want to talk about applying or filing an appeal, there is never a charge to call us. Woods & Woods VA disability compensation lawyers offer free PTSD claim evaluations to any veteran or family member that needs help.