PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is a Mental Disorder that is caused by experiencing a traumatic event. When defining PTSD, a “traumatic event” is any event where the person experiences shocking circumstances that conflict with their understanding of what is right and good. Traumatic events can include actual or threatened abuse, death, physical injury, sexual abuse/violence, accidents, situations that cause extreme fear, and many more.
Depending on the severity, PTSD can have a huge affect on the ability of an individual to function in normal life. Symptoms can include fear, the inability to concentrate, depression, anti-social behaviors, violent outbursts, anger, nightmares, insomnia, and many more. The symptoms can be constant, worsen over time, improve over time, or can come and go.
Like many mental illnesses, the exact symptoms of PTSD can be very different from one person to the next. Some symptoms can show up immediately following the traumatic event, but most symptoms often develop over a period of time. This can be a few weeks and months to many years after the initial traumatic event.
Because of the naturally traumatic experiences that combat provides, many military members suffer from PTSD. Being exposed to a traumatic event alone, however, is not enough to be diagnosed with PTSD. There are many requirements that a condition must meet before it can be considered PTSD.
The following table lists the different requirements that must be met before a condition can be diagnosed as PTSD.
Note: These requirements are strictly for assigning Military Disability Ratings to PTSD for Military Disability. Other organizations, psychologists, etc., may diagnose PTSD on different standards. Regardless, the requirements below are commonly accepted overall as a good general guideline for diagnosing PTSD.
Once the condition fulfills all the requirements, it can then be officially diagnosed as PTSD by a mental health professional for the purpose of Military Disability.
How will the VA rate my PTSD?
The VA uses the Psychological Rating System to rate PTSD based on the symptoms it causes. Check out our Mental Disorders Ratings page for the exact codes and ratings.
My PTSD wasn't diagnosed until after I was discharged. Can it qualify for VA disability?
Yes. As long as there is clear evidence that the traumatic event that triggered the PTSD is service-related, then it can qualify for VA Disability at any time.
How do I apply to receive my ratings?
If you are still in the military, then you can request your military physician to refer you to the MEB and start the IDES process. If you are already a veteran, you can submit a VA Disability Claim along with evidence of service-connection and all medical records regarding the conditions on the claim.
Are my conditions eligible for a rating?
Your conditions are eligible to be rated by the VA if they are the result of your military service. You must be able to show proof of service-connection for each condition. For the DoD, they will rate your service-connected conditions as long as they also make you Unfit for Duty.
If my claim is approved, what benefits will I receive?
If you are rated 20% or less from the DoD, then you will receive a single separation payment. If you are rated 30% or more, you will receive full retirement benefits. From the VA, you will receive a monthly payment as well as full medical care from the VA for the qualifying conditions.
How long does it take to receive my disability benefits?
Brand new claims usually take 3-6 months to process. Once processed, you will start receiving payments in 1-3 months.
How are the rating percentages assigned to my conditions?
The rules of the VA's Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD) are used to assign rating percentages to conditions. The VASRD gives rating rules for conditions based on their symptoms, treatment options, and the resulting level of disability they cause.
My conditions have worsened. How do I increase my rating percentages?
If your conditions have worsened since you last applied and now qualify for a higher rating, you can submit a new claim, checking the box for an increased evaluation.