Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the most common service-connected mental disability that affects veterans. In fact, PTSD accounts for 63% of approved VA disability claims for mental health issues in 2019. This condition usually occurs in military personnel exposed to traumatic events while on active duty. And, unfortunately, it’s far more common among military service members than the general U.S. population. Anywhere from 11-30% of veterans today suffer from this condition’s symptoms, depending on their service era. We’ll explain how to qualify for VA disability benefits with PTSD, which forms you’ll need to apply and more below.
How Veterans With PTSD Can Qualify for VA Disability Benefits
Every veteran must meet the following requirements in order to file a VA disability claim for PTSD:
- You must have an honorable discharge.
- Your condition must directly result from a traumatic event that occurred during your military service. (For example: Someone else injured, sexually assaulted or threatened to kill you.)
- You have a PTSD diagnosis from a licensed doctor. If you haven’t yet received a diagnosis, talk to a licensed psychiatrist, psychologist or psychotherapist.
- Your symptoms stop you from functioning as well as you did before the traumatic event(s).
If the above describes you, you must also submit one of the following forms with your VA disability claim:
- Use VA Form 21-0781 if your PTSD symptoms result from a personal assault.
- For all other PTSD cases, download and complete VA Form 21-0781a instead.
Once approved, you’ll receive free health care, treatment for your PTSD symptoms and monthly disability payments from the VA.
What If You’re Not Sure If Your Symptoms Qualify?
If don’t yet have an official diagnosis, you can get screened online or at a nearby VA medical center. Common PTSD symptoms may include:
- Remembering traumatic events in the past, or reliving them again in your head
- Feeling numb, anxious, guilty, withdrawn or uninterested in things you typically enjoy
- You startle easily and feel hyperaware of your surroundings (i.e., heightened flight-or-fright response)
- A good night’s sleep is rare for you (i.e., you have nightmares, insomnia, wake up often or don’t feel well-rested)
- It’s hard for you to pay attention or focus on the task at hand
- You try to avoid certain people, places or situations that remind you of the traumatic event
- Negative thoughts and feelings are more common for you than positive ones
- You tend to indulge in unhealthy behaviors, such as excessive smoking, drinking, doing drugs, reckless driving, etc.
You likely have an eligible PTSD claim for VA disability benefits if your symptoms:
- Last longer than 30 days. You don’t have to feel them 24/7, and it’s normal for symptoms like these to come and go. But if they bother you for several weeks or months, be sure to tell your doctor.
- Negatively impact your daily life. Everyone gets upset, angry or feels down now and then. PTSD symptoms can make it hard or impossible to keep a job, maintain relationships and complete daily living tasks.
- Are very upsetting to you and your loved ones. You may think about hurting yourself or others, for example, or experience debilitating panic attacks.
Determining a VA Rating for Getting Veterans Disability Benefits with PTSD
The VA disability ratings for PTSD range from 0%-100%. Here’s a brief look at the criteria they use to assign these percentages:
- 0% — you have a formal diagnosis from a mental health professional, but it doesn’t interfere with your work or daily life. You can function normally in social and occupational situations without prescription medication or therapy.
- 10% — only during especially stressful times, your symptoms may slightly interfere with your ability to work or socialize. Most of the time, you take medication that effectively controls all your symptoms.
- 30% — you have trouble completing work tasks or take longer than usual to finish them once a week or less often. However, you also suffer from occasional panic attacks, insomnia, feel depressed/anxious or easily forget things, like names and directions.
- 50% — you regularly struggle to connect with others and maintain relationships at work and in your personal life. More than once a week, you experience panic attacks, mood swings, feel unmotivated/depressed and forget to finish work tasks. Others may describe you as unreliable, unproductive or say that you have a violent temper.
- 70% — nearly everything feels overly stressful to you, including work, spending time around other people and completing basic self-care tasks. You often feel disoriented, confused, panicky or depressed and show poor impulse control almost daily. Suicidal thoughts, obsessive rituals or inappropriate behavior may interfere with your ability to function on a regular basis.
- 100% — you have persistent delusions, hallucinations or may pose a constant danger to yourself and others. It’s not unusual for you to forget who you are, where you are and what you’re doing. You exhibit grossly inappropriate behavior at work, at home and in public. Basic daily living tasks are hard to impossible for you (i.e., getting dressed, showering, feeding yourself, paying bills).
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 can’t afford to wait for much-needed benefits or believe you’re 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 doesn’t approve your benefits application, you’ll owe $0 for legal assistance. And if you do win, then you’ll 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!
Mandy Voisin is a freelance writer, blogger, and author of Girls of the Ocean and Star of Deliverance. As an accomplished content marketing consultant, mom of four and doctor's wife, Mandy has written hundreds of articles about dangerous drugs and medical devices, medical issues that impact disabled Americans, veterans' healthcare and workers' compensation issues since 2016.