Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), like all mental disorders, is very hard to define. Basically, two people with PTSD could have completely different symptoms. Because of this, different physicians may use different requirements to diagnose PTSD, and thus a condition that one physician considers PTSD may not be considered PTSD by another physician.
The VASRD, the law that determines how conditions are rated for DoD Disability and VA Disability, has its own set of requirements for diagnosing PTSD. These requirements must be followed for a condition to receive a military disability rating for PTSD, even if a qualified physician diagnoses the condition as PTSD.
Before anything else, there must be documentation that the service member was involved in a traumatic event. This means that the service member/veteran must have records that say that he experienced combat or another traumatic event. The traumatic event MUST have occurred while he was in the military.
There must also be documentation of a definite diagnosis of PTSD from a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist. A diagnosis by itself is not enough for a rating of PTSD, but it is still required.
Once these basic requirements are met, the condition must also have all the required symptoms/circumstances that the VASRD dictates are necessary for a rating of PTSD. I won’t get into the specifics of those here since they are thoroughly explained in our discussion of rating PTSD on our website. Do note, however, that the requirements under each category must be met in order for the condition to be considered PTSD. Each of these symptoms must also be documented by a physician.
As long as you have the proper documentation and your condition meets all the requirements for PTSD, your condition can definitely be rated as PTSD.
If your condition does not meet the requirements for PTSD, however, it’s not the end of the world. Truthfully, a rating of PTSD isn’t exactly essential.
PTSD is ultimately rated on the same system as every other mental disorder (the Psychological Rating System), so even if your condition can’t be officially called PTSD, your physician could diagnose you with a different mental disorder that doesn’t have so many requirements, like another Anxiety Disorder, and you would still receive the same rating and benefits you would receive if your diagnosis was PTSD.