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How Does the VA Calculate my Disability Rating for PTSD?

Published on October 31st, 2019

If you have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, you may have trouble finding stable employment because of your insomnia, anxiety, and flashbacks. Fortunately, the VA is supposed to consider your PTSD as a service related condition that can qualify you for veterans disability compensation. The amount of monthly disability benefits you receive will depend on your disability rating. As with other conditions, the disability rating for PTSD is primarily calculated on the basis of how much it interferes with your earning ability.

When you are suffering from PTSD after your military service, it can feel like a slap in the face to get a lower than expected disability rating for your condition. Performing daily activities–let alone going to work–can seem like an insurmountable task when you have PTSD, and if you’re not getting the compensation you deserve, you may be worried about your future. Fortunately, the veterans benefits lawyers at Jackson & MacNichol can help you appeal the VA’s bad rating decision and give you access to your benefits. For a free consultation, call us today at 800-524-3339.

The VA Focuses on How Badly Your PTSD Affects Your Employability

As a veteran, it is likely that your PTSD was caused by your military service–but this is by no means a certainty. Just like with any medical or mental health condition, you can only get veterans disability compensation if you can show that your PTSD was caused or made worse by your military service. For example, if you were assaulted after your discharge from the military, and your PTSD symptoms only appeared after that point, it is possible that the VA will deny that you have a service-related disability.

Once a connection between your PTSD and your military service has been established, the VA will assign you a disability rating. They primarily base the rating decision on the results of your Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam. This is typically an appointment with a psychologist which involves in-depth questions about how your conditions affect your day-to-day life and earning ability. The doctor giving the exam doesn’t assign you a rating on the spot. Instead, they will write a report and send it to the VA Regional Office, whose staff will make the ratings decision. One serious mistake that many veterans make is to understate their symptoms to the examiner.  It is a particularly frequent problem that veterans are unwilling to be candid about thoughts of suicide.

For PTSD, you may get a disability rating of 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, or 100 percent. Each rating has a particular description, and if it matches the report from your C&P exam, the VA staff will assign you that rating. For example, a 100 percent rating would require that your C&P exam describe “total occupational and social impairment,” which includes such things as:

  • Persistent hallucinations
  • Significant difficulties communicating
  • Grossly inappropriate behavior
  • Danger of committing self harm or harm to others
  • Disorientation
  • Memory loss
  • Trouble maintaining your personal hygiene

You don’t need to demonstrate all of these. If just one of these issues is enough to totally prevent you from engaging in substantially gainful employment, you may be awarded a 100 percent disability rating.

In contrast, a rating of 10 percent would be appropriate if your C&P exam shows that your ability to work and socialize is only impaired because of “mild or transient symptoms” which decrease your work efficiency–but only during periods of significant stress. Alternatively, you may have more severe symptoms but they are adequately controlled with medication and treatment.

How a Veterans Benefits Lawyer Can Help

Sometimes, your PTSD symptoms may fit into two disability rating ranges. In this case, the VA is supposed to assign you with the higher rating if it more accurately matches your symptoms. This is an area where the advocacy of a lawyer can make a big difference. Increasing your rating from 50 to 70 percent by appealing your ratings decision can provide you and your family with a much-needed financial boost. At Jackson & MacNichol, we can help you gather the necessary evidence and make the case that you deserve a higher disability rating. Call us today at 800-524-3339 for a free consultation about appealing your VA ratings decision.


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