PTSD Letter From Your Doctor: The Ultimate Veteran’s Guide

PTSD Letter From Your Doctor: The Ultimate Veteran’s Guide

For Veterans to receive disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, they must provide at least one nexus letter from a licensed medical professional. 

Nexus letters are especially important for Veterans who need to receive benefits for mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

If you’re unsure what a nexus letter is or why you need a PTSD letter from your doctor, read on. 

What Are Nexus Letters?

A nexus letter is an official letter or memo from a licensed healthcare professional stating their medical opinion regarding a Veteran’s health conditions and military service. It references a “nexus” or “nexus event.” 

In the VA disability benefits process, establishing and proving a nexus event is vital for Veterans who wish to recover monetary benefits.

The VA only provides medical and other disability benefits to Veterans who can prove the following:

  • That they developed one or more healthcare conditions or disabilities
  • That they developed those disabilities during or after their military service
  • That they developed those disabilities because of something that happened in the course of their military duties

For example, a Veteran may see combat and witness the death of one of their fellow servicemembers. Because of this traumatic event, the Veteran develops PTSD and related mental health symptoms.

To prove they did not have PTSD before joining the military, the Veteran must provide substantiating evidence for their claim. One of the most important pieces of evidence is the nexus letter. The Veteran’s nexus letter is a statement from their therapist or other mental health care provider stating that:

  • They have currently diagnosed a disability in the Veteran/their patient
  • It is the opinion of the mental health care provider that the Veteran didn’t have PTSD before the nexus event
  • It is the opinion of the mental health care provider that the Veteran’s PTSD was caused or exacerbated by the nexus event in question

With this evidence, the VA is much more likely to provide a Veteran with disability benefits. It’s essentially the closest thing a Veteran can get to prove that they developed or aggravated their PTSD after a traumatic incident in the military.

What Should a Nexus Letter Include?

A strong nexus letter for PTSD or any other disability or health condition should include the following elements:

  • A qualified and licensed medical professional should write it. For instance, if you wish to get a PTSD letter from your doctor, it needs to come from a licensed therapist or psychiatrist
  • It must be based on the Veteran’s medical history and reference that history both during and after their service
  • It must include a clear opinion on the likelihood that the Veteran’s disability was either caused or aggravated by a nexus in-service event
  • It must include an explanation for the opinion so that a layperson can understand it

Essentially, your medical healthcare professional must summarize their opinion in plain terms. Something like this example could qualify in many VA disability benefits claims:

  • “It is the opinion of I, John D. Smith, a licensed psychiatrist, that Bob B. Anderson, my client, developed PTSD and related symptoms due to a traumatic event witnessed during their time serving the US Army.”

A good PTSD letter should include more information than just this statement. It should go into more detail regarding the Veteran’s symptoms, their explanation for their opinion, and other important information. 

There’s no recommended length for a PTSD letter. If your doctor has worked with Veterans before, they may already know how to write one and how long it should be for the best effect. 

What Is a PTSD Letter From Your Doctor?

A PTSD letter from your doctor is a nexus letter specifically used to substantiate a PTSD disability benefits claim. Rather than referencing other disabilities or injuries, the letter should reference an in-service event or nexus incident that caused or aggravated the development of PTSD in the Veteran in question.

Because PTSD is a mental health condition, PTSD letters can normally only be written by a mental health care practitioner, such as a psychiatrist.

Why Is a PTSD Letter From Your Doctor Crucial?

A PTSD letter from your doctor is crucial because post-traumatic stress disorder, like other mental health conditions, is difficult to prove in the traditional sense. You can’t necessarily point to any physical ailments or symptoms you experience. 

Instead, you have to relate your subjective experiences to the VA and use those experiences as evidence that you need disability benefits.

A PTSD letter from your doctor can be crucial in proving this. Your doctor will be seen as a neutral third party who can back up your claims and provide a medical, educated opinion that you have PTSD and require financial assistance.

Furthermore, a PTSD letter from your doctor is vital because it can support your claim that you developed or aggravated your PTSD only because of your military service. This could be especially important if you did have one or more health conditions or mental health disorders before the in-service incident that caused or aggravated your PTSD.

A PTSD letter from your doctor provides vital context that can help the VA make an accurate, beneficial decision regarding your benefits claim.

What Makes a Strong PTSD Letter from Your Doctor?

The best PTSD letters from a doctor incorporate three major factors.

Your Medical History

First, a strong PTSD letter from your doctor should include a detailed breakdown of your medical history. 

Your doctor should already know a lot about this, including whether you had PTSD or mental health symptoms before your military service or if you have a history of mental health illness in your family. This is important since such information may not show up on your service records so that it can provide the necessary context to your benefits claim.

Your Doctor’s Opinion

Second, your PTSD letter from your doctor should include their opinion on how likely it is that your PTSD is related to your service. This is arguably the most important part of the letter. 

Doctors who write nexus letters don’t have to be 100% sure of the link between your condition and your service, but they must be at least 50% sure. Still, the more certain your doctor is that your PTSD is related to a nexus incident, the better.

Their Reasoning

Third, your doctor’s nexus letter should include the reasoning for the above statement. For example, if your psychiatrist has worked with you for several months and learned about the nexus incident that caused your PTSD, they can explain it. This helps validate the legitimacy of the medical healthcare professional and persuade the VA that your claim is valid.

How Do You Get a PTSD Letter From Your Doctor?

You can get a PTSD letter from your doctor by asking for one. For example, if you regularly visit a practicing psychiatrist, ask them to provide you with a nexus letter at your next meeting or by email. 

Any physician who works with you should already know your Veteran status and have no trouble providing you with the letter you need to recover disability benefits.

If you don’t already have a doctor, like a psychiatrist or therapist, you must visit one immediately. Find a psychiatrist and explain your condition. After several weeks, they should know enough information to provide you with a strong nexus letter to substantiate your benefits claim.

If you don’t know which psychiatrists to trust, your Veterans law attorneys may be able to help. Some law firms know the best psychiatrists or other Veteran-friendly doctors and clinics to visit.

Contact Berry Law Today

A strong PTSD letter from your doctor will go a long way toward improving your disability benefits claim and maximizing your chances of recovering benefits. The PTSD letter you receive from your doctor is one of the most important evidence you can provide in your claim.

That’s why Berry Law will help you with this part of the process and beyond. Our experienced lawyers can connect you to reputable therapists or medical healthcare professionals if you need to get a medical opinion regarding your PTSD. They’ll also help you develop a strong benefits claim from the start. Contact us today to learn more.


Veterans Disability Benefits | USAGov

Nexus Letter | North Dakota State Government Website

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder | MedlinePlus

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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