Posted by Gregory M. Rada | September 9, 2019 | Disability Compensation
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a very misunderstood condition that does not get the attention it deserves. Military personnel are particularly at risk for this debilitating condition due to the constant and severe stress they experience during active duty, especially during deployment. Unfortunately, signs of PTSD may not surface until years after exposure to a traumatic event, making it harder to get the help one needs.
Depending upon the severity of PTSD, some veterans become completely disabled and unable to work. Convincing the Veterans Administration (VA) of this fact and securing a Total Disability rating based on Individual Unemployability is not a simple endeavor. As with all disability claims, the VA primarily rates the level of disability based on how much the service-connected condition is interfering with a veteran’s ability to work. A discussion of how VA adjudicators rate PTSD claims and how to present evidence that will get the rating the veteran needs for benefits will follow below.
Few will likely be surprised to hear that getting a disability rating for PTSD is more complicated than other disabling conditions. As noted above, the assigned rating is primarily based upon how significantly PTSD affects the veteran’s earning capacity, although the VA also considers social impairment.
PTSD can be assigned the following ratings: 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%, again, based on occupational and social impairment. The VA rater will assign a rating based on the results of a VA examination and other medical evidence. The adjudicator is required to assess the severity, frequency, and history of psychiatric issues, and how often the veteran experienced periods of remission and his/her ability to function during these times, and not assign a rating based on a single VA examination.
The most important part of a psychiatric VA examination is to be as honest and forthcoming as possible. Understandably, it can be difficult to open up to a VA examiner, but it is necessary to ensure a veteran receives the maximum rating. A good piece of advice is to imagine the examiner is a longtime friend to whom you are giving an update on all areas of your life.
Additionally, most veterans tend to minimize symptoms or attribute symptoms to causes other than PTSD. Often due to their natural tendency to try and be tough, veterans also underreport symptoms because they do not understand fully their PTSD. This is why treatment can be so important – even if it doesn’t “cure” PTSD, it helps the veteran understand what symptoms PTSD is causing.
Since a disability rating centers on the veteran’s earning capacity, the most important aspect of a PTSD rating is showing how the condition impacted the veteran’s ability to work. If a veteran is employed but has issues at work, it is important to report those issues. Consequently, reports from treating medical providers and former/present employers can be crucial in supporting a higher rating for PTSD.
You do not have to suffer in silence the aftereffects of your experience in the military. If you are dealing with PTSD and cannot work, call a VA disability attorney about filing a claim for disability compensation. Attorney Gregory M. Rada, of Gregory M. Rada, Attorney at Law, is dedicated to helping veterans get the help to cope with a service-related disability and is ready to speak with you about your situation. Representing clients nationwide, me at (844) 838-7529 for a free phone consultation.
Gregory Rada is a Veterans Benefits Attorney who practices Nationwide. He graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law, and has been practicing law for six years. Gregory Rada believes in fighting for fellow veterans. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.