Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that affects thousands of Veterans. Stemming from a life-altering, traumatic experience, the symptoms of PTSD can be extremely debilitating. PTSD is not a weakness, nor is it something any Veteran should feel ashamed of. The condition can affect anyone, and many Veterans suffer from PTSD symptoms following their time in the military. Whether from intense and traumatic experiences on the frontlines, sexual assault or abuse, or many other factors, many Veterans return to civilian life with PTSD.
If you have been diagnosed with PTSD and are a Veteran, you may be eligible to receive significant disability benefits from the department of Veterans affairs (VA). The VA recognizes PTSD as a service-related disability as long as a Veteran can verify that their PTSD symptoms are directly linked to their military service.
We’ll explore the process that leads to receiving disability benefits from the VA for PTSD. We will also cover the steps to take if something goes wrong in the application process. We can help you appeal the VA’s decision on your claim, allowing you to get a higher disability rating or get approved for benefits if your claim has been denied.
You shouldn’t have to go through the process of getting the support you need from the VA by yourself. When you need help, one of our experienced attorneys is the ideal teammate to have at your side.
The key symptoms of PTSD can be separated into four categories:
PTSD’s symptoms can vary from person to person, and the disorder can arise at different points after a person has a traumatic experience. Sometimes, it takes years for symptoms of PTSD to show up. For many Veterans, the onset of PTSD occurs decades after their military service has ended. This late onset often happens for Veterans who are suppressing traumatic memories that are too intense or disturbing to process.
The best way to determine whether you have PTSD is to get a professional evaluation from a mental health professional. When you apply to receive disability benefits from the VA, the VA will also have you undergo their own examination to verify your condition.
In order to file a claim to receive disability benefits for PTSD from the VA, you will need to have an official diagnosis of the disorder. The VA is also looking for confirmation of a “nexus,” an inherent connection between your symptoms and the experience that you had in the military. This nexus verifies that you are suffering from PTSD due to something you experienced in the military. Without this connection, the VA may deny you benefits unless you have another disability as well.
When you file a claim to receive benefits from the VA and they accept your request, they will give you a specific disability rating between 10% and 100%. A rating below 10% means that your disability status was not significant enough in the eyes of the VA to qualify you to receive monthly benefits. If you end up with a rating under 10%, you can request a decision review from the VA or make an appeal to have your rating changed.
Each level of the VA’s disability rating system is connected to higher monthly benefits. For a disabled Veteran, the rating given by the VA can have a huge impact in terms of financial stability. If the VA gives a disabled Veteran a high enough rating, that Veteran should be able to sufficiently support themself and their family. However, if the VA rates a Veteran’s disability status too low, the Veteran may end up struggling financially.
The VA does not always give ratings to disabled Veterans with perfect accuracy. Ratings that are too low are common for Veterans with mental health issues like PTSD. If you end up with a rating from the VA that you think is too low, there’s still hope of getting the correct disability rating.
The 100% disability score from the VA is typically given to Veterans whose conditions make them unable to function at work, interact socially, or carry out everyday tasks. A 100% disability rating is typically given in cases where a Veteran is so severely disabled that their primary income source would be from the VA. Veterans with PTSD sometimes get a 100% rating, allowing them to receive the highest possible monthly benefits. However, Veterans who have been diagnosed with PTSD and have 100% disability ratings typically also suffer from other disabilities as well.
If you are a Veteran with PTSD, your condition likely has a noticeable negative impact on your life. If so, this is typically sufficient grounds to receive monthly benefits from the VA. However, if your condition is not crippling, meaning you are still able to function socially, work, and live a relatively normal life, the VA’s rating of your disability will likely be considerably lower.
Getting a 100% disability rating can be difficult, but if you feel that this rating reflects the severity of your symptoms, you should not settle for anything lower. If you end up with a rating that is too low, you can work towards having your rating changed by requesting a decision review or making an appeal.
When you are aiming for a 100% disability rating, consider seeing if you can qualify for total disability individual unemployability (TDIU). This status means that a Veteran’s disability is significant enough to make them unemployable. Qualifying for TDIU can make it easier to achieve a higher disability rating from the VA.
If the VA denies your application to receive benefits or gives you a rating that is lower than your condition warrants, you can request a decision review from the VA. The decision review process involves the VA carefully examining your claim in one of a few different ways.
In some cases, a VA decision review can involve submitting further evidence to the VA that can change their decision. In other cases, a decision review can include getting a senior officer at the VA involved in your case. The decision review process can also eventually lead to a hearing either at your regional VA office, at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, or in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims.
If you go through the decision review process and still end up with either a denial from the VA or a rating that is too low, your best move is to make an appeal with the help of an attorney who is well-versed in the ins and outs of VA policy. An attorney can help you present convincing evidence to the VA to show the legitimacy of your claim and the need for your disability rating to be changed.
When the VA continues to deny your application for benefits or will not change your rating when you need it changed, you can move through multiple levels of the appeals process with the help of an attorney. Appeals can sometimes reach higher courts before a case is settled, especially if the VA believes that the Veteran has insufficient medical evidence or a lack of verification that their disability is connected to their military service.
If you are struggling to compile the evidence that you need to get the outcome you deserve, an attorney can help you get there. The VA is often looking for specific details to strengthen a Veteran’s case for receiving higher benefits. An experienced attorney from Berry Law can help you make the VA’s regulations, rules, and expectations work for you rather than against you.
As a team of Veterans helping Veterans, we’re committed to doing whatever it takes to help you make as strong of an appeal as possible. We can represent you on the regional level, at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, or in higher courts. If you are a Veteran suffering from PTSD, you shouldn’t have to fight to receive the benefits you deserve. But when you do, we’re here to fight with you. We know the struggles that disabled Veterans go through firsthand, and we have years of experience under our belts to serve you as well as possible. Call Berry Law today to receive a free case evaluation.
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