The Impact of PTSD on VA Mental Health Claims: What Veterans Should Know

Mental Health

Many veterans find themselves in a situation where their PTSD disability claim is denied, or the rating is lower than they deserve. To make a successful appeal, it’s essential to understand how the VA rates PTSD.

A 100 percent rating includes:

  • Severe symptoms like hallucinations and delusions.
  • Grossly inappropriate behavior.
  • Inability to care for self.
  • Memory loss.

PTSD Symptoms

The symptoms of PTSD can include intrusive thoughts, nightmares, hyperarousal, emotional numbness, and difficulty concentrating. The condition can also cause physical problems such as irritability, anger outbursts, and unexplained pain. People living with PTSD may avoid people, places, or situations that remind them of the traumatic events. For example, a car backfire can trigger combat memories, or a report on sexual assault could make them recall an attack.

It’s possible for Veterans who experience PTSD to be awarded disability benefits. However, these service members need to document their PTSD symptoms carefully. This process includes medical records, statements from mental health professionals, and compensation and pension (C&P) exam results.

Many VSOs offer free services to help veterans file claims for PTSD. These groups can provide guidance and support throughout the process. The researchers used insurance claims data, academic literature, and government publications to estimate the economic burden of PTSD in both civilian and military populations.

PTSD Diagnosis

A diagnosis of PTSD is based on the duration, intensity, and frequency of symptoms as well as how they affect the veteran’s ability to function in different areas of life. The symptoms include hyperarousal (irritability, angry outbursts, trouble concentrating, easy startle response, problems sleeping), avoidance of reminders of the event, adverse changes in feelings and beliefs, such as guilt or emotional numbing, and physical symptoms like headaches, stomach issues, and high blood pressure.

Getting help early may prevent PTSD from becoming more severe. It can also lessen the likelihood of turning to harmful coping mechanisms like drug and alcohol abuse. In addition, VA mental health claims encompass a wide range of conditions, including but not limited to PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders, for which veterans may seek compensation and support from the Department of Veterans Affairs based on their service-related experiences and resulting mental health challenges.

The VA rates PTSD based on the severity of the symptoms and their impact on a veteran’s quality of life. This is expressed as a percentage rating and directly correlates to the amount of disability compensation that the veteran receives each month. A 0% rating means the veteran’s symptoms do not interfere with occupational or social functioning.

PTSD Treatment

PTSD is treatable, and several psychotherapy and medication options have been proven effective. However, the condition can still significantly affect your quality of life and those around you.

You might be eligible for disability benefits if your PTSD symptoms are so bad that they make it difficult for you to work, maintain relationships, and lead a fulfilling life. To get this benefit, you must have a diagnosis from a medical professional and credible supporting evidence that demonstrates that your PTSD is service-related.

Many Veterans find it helpful to seek support from loved ones, and many veterans’ organizations offer services to help. You can also join a support group, and many VA healthcare providers encourage using buddy statements to help you explain your experiences in a safe environment. Clinical trials are another option for getting treatment. These can be accessed through your primary care provider or the Military Crisis Line.

PTSD Claims

Many of the symptoms associated with PTSD are disabling and may prevent a veteran from working. To receive compensation for PTSD, veterans must meet three elements:

  1. A current diagnosis from a medical professional.
  2. Corroborating evidence (buddy statements, police reports, line of duty reports, or other documentation).
  3. A statement by an expert that PTSD is related to the in-service stressor.

Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Distressing memories, nightmares, or flashbacks.
  • Avoidance of people, places, or situations that remind the sufferer of the traumatic events.
  • Adverse changes in thoughts and feelings, including self-blame or hopelessness.
  • Difficulty sleeping or hyperarousal.

VA assigns a rating to each cause to reflect the severity of a veteran’s PTSD symptoms. A 50% rating qualifies veterans for increased compensation and comprehensive healthcare services.

If a veteran’s PTSD is severe enough to prevent them from working, they can qualify for benefits at a 70% or 100% rating. This level of service-connection also entitles them to disability housing and caregiver assistance.