How Can You Increase Your PTSD VA Disability Rating?

“How can I Increase my PTSD VA disability rating?” This is a fairly common question that we get. We’re contacted by a Veteran who is rated at, say, 10 or 30% for PTSD. He tells us his buddy, whom he served with in Iraq or Afghanistan, is receiving 70% for the same exact thing, leaving them confused about why their rating is so low.

This Veteran will then ask us: “How can this be? Why is he rated higher for PTSD? We have the same problems. How can I increase my PTSD disability rating?”

The simple answer is there are many different factors the VA takes into account when evaluating the severity of your PTSD. However, if you disagree with the rating the VA gave you, you always have the opportunity to appeal the decision to increase your PTSD VA disability rating.

Factors Impacting Your PTSD Rating

When you look at different PTSD ratings, it’s important to consider the different factors that can influence one’s rating.

Social vs Occupational Factors

Sometimes, the Veteran’s medical records and claims file focused on social factors instead of occupational factors. This can have a large impact on the rating you receive for your PTSD. What are social and occupation factors?

  • Social factors – include family relationships and interactions with friends and peers
  • Occupational factors – as the name suggests, encompasses challenges faced at work and on the job

When submitting an appeal, it’s important to focus on both social and occupational factors as both are important when determining your disability rating. By submitting additional evidence about how your PTSD impacts your job, you have a better chance of increasing your PTSD rating.

Downplaying Your Symptoms

You should never downplay your PTSD symptoms when talking to a medical provider or VA doctor. Sometimes a Veteran receives an inadequate PTSD VA disability rating because the Veteran, when talking with a VA physician, downplayed some of their PTSD symptoms — thinking “well it’s not that bad.” While most Veterans learned to “tough it out” in the military, failing to let your medical provider know how serious your PTSD is can severely limit the rating you receive for your mental health condition. This is one of the most common ways to increase your PTSD rating.

Many Veterans assume that they should either talk up or downplay their symptoms, when in reality the best option is to be honest and discuss every symptom you are experiencing.

Sometimes the frequency and severity of PTSD-related symptoms get worse over time. It is important when submitting documentation in support of an appeal to include not only recent medical records, but also a full medical history so that a doctor can see trends and patterns that have developed throughout the years. If your symptoms have progressively gotten worse over time, your PTSD rating should increase to match that.

Not only does the VA have to consider medical records, but it also has to look at other evidence the Veteran can provide which may demonstrate a higher rating is warranted. This may include buddy statements from family members, friends, or employers who can verify that they observed the Veteran exhibiting the symptoms in your VA claim appeal. Buddy statements can be very effective when trying to persuade the VA that your condition is service connected.

Understanding How the VA Rates PTSD

Are you unsure of where you might fall under the PTSD VA disability rating system? Veterans can receive a rating anywhere from 0%-100% for PTSD:

  • 100% rating: Completely unable to function socially or at work with symptoms such as severely inappropriate behavior, ongoing hallucinations or delusions, consistent threat of harming self or others, unable to remember basic information such as names of close relatives, severe confusion and disorientation, and/or inability to care for self.
  • 70% rating: Unable to function in most social and work areas with symptoms such as obsessive behaviors, illogical speech, depression and panic so persistent that it interferes with ability to function, suicidal thinking, inability to control impulses (including becoming violent without provocation), neglecting self-care such as hygiene, inability to handle stress, and/or inability to maintain relationships.
  • 50% rating: Some impairment in ability to function socially and at work with lack of reliability and productivity, due to symptoms such as trouble understanding, memory loss, poor judgment, mood disturbances, trouble with work and social relationships, and/or having one or more panic attacks weekly.
  • 30% rating: Some trouble functioning socially and at work, occasionally inefficient with work or unable to perform work tasks, but generally able to care of self and speak normally. Symptoms can include depression, anxiety, chronic difficulty sleeping, mild memory loss, suspiciousness, and panic attacks (can be less than once a week).
  • 10% rating: Mild symptoms creating work and social impairment when under significant stress, or mild symptoms managed successfully with continuous medication.
  • 0% rating: Diagnosis of mental illness but symptoms are so mild that they don’t require continuous medication, or, don’t interfere with social and work functioning.

How to File for a PTSD Rating Increase

If you believe you have the evidence necessary to file for an increased PTSD rating, you must fill out a form for the VA to reevaluate the condition based on the date of your most recent rating decision. If your decision was less than a year old, you can file an appeal. If it is more than a year old, you must reopen the claim. At Berry Law, we can help you reopen or appeal your PTSD rating to get all the disability compensation you deserve.

A Veteran can file one of two forms depending on the date they received their rating decision:

  • VA Form 21-526 EZ: Application for Disability Compensation – If your rating decision is over 1 year old, you must file VA Form 21-526 EZ to request an increase in your PTSD rating.
  • VA Form 20-0995: Decision Review Request – Supplemental Claim – If your rating decision is less than 1 year old, you must file VA Form 20-0995 to request an increase in your PTSD rating.

Remember, if you miss your appeal deadline to request an increase you could lose out on potential backpay compensation as you will be assigned a new effective date, meaning your payments will only go back to the date you reopened the claim, not the date you initially filed for the condition.

Veterans Serving Veterans

Are you receiving the veterans’ disability compensation you are entitled to? If you need assistance appealing a PTSD VA Disability Rating Decision for mental health conditions or physical disabilities that occurred in service, please contact Berry Law.

Berry Law is America’s Veterans Law Firm, and your fire support team to battle the VA. Our mission is to ensure every Veteran receives all the disability compensation they are entitled to. With attorneys from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, we have the experience needed to win your appeal.

Click here to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team to determine if we can help you with your VA appeal.

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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