What Veterans Need to Know About PTSD VA Ratings

Many veterans have gone through extremely traumatic experiences during their time in service. They have seen and witnessed devastating events that may have influenced their mental health, which can lead to a mental disorder known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What Is PTSD?

PTSD, also known as post-traumatic stress disorder, typically occurs after a shocking or traumatic event, like combat, an assault, or a natural disaster. After experiencing the event, it’s natural for people to feel afraid. However, a traumatic event or experience can often trigger stress reactions that cause split-second changes in the individual’s system to defend themselves from perceived danger or avoid it completely. 

This flight-or-fight response is a common reaction when a stressor appears. While the response exists to protect a person from harm, it can disrupt one’s life if it is not controlled or managed.

PTSD Symptoms

Although some traumatized individuals experience short-term symptoms, many develop chronic (ongoing) PTSD. 

Depending on the severity of the traumatic event, the duration of PTSD may vary. For example, some people experience symptoms within the first three months after the incident, while others experience it much longer. 

Some of the severe symptoms can include:

  • Flashbacks: Reliving trauma repeatedly with physical reactions like increased heart rate and sweating
  • Sleep Issues: Trouble sleeping or consistent night terrors
  • Avoidance: Staying away from thoughts, feelings, events, objects, and places that are reminders of the incident
  • Reactivity: Being on edge, angry, or startled easily

Additional symptoms include:

  • Distorted feelings of blame or guilt
  • Negative thoughts about the self and the world
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Frightening thoughts during the day

Take Note: It’s not always the case that these symptoms appear immediately after the traumatic event. Instead, these symptoms may develop weeks or even months after a PTSD stressor incident.

Does the VA Consider PTSD as a Disability?

Due to its symptoms’ seriousness and possible effects on veterans’ physical and mental health, the Veterans Affairs (VA) considers PTSD a disability and offers the appropriate compensation.

However, there are criteria that the veteran must meet to be eligible for compensation for PTSD. 

Criteria for VA Disability Benefits for PTSD

Veterans are eligible for VA disability benefits if they prove that their PTSD symptoms are connected to a traumatic event (also known as the “stressor”). An applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • The event occurred during their time in military service. 
  • They cannot function properly because of their apparent symptoms.
  • A doctor has officially diagnosed them with PTSD. 

Based on these criteria, VA recognizes a traumatic event in military service if:

  • A person suffered a personal or military sexual trauma, sexual violation, or serious injury. 
  • A person was threatened with death, sexual assault, or injury.

PTSD VA Rating Requirements

Once a person has been diagnosed with PTSD, the VA will rate the intensity of the conditions based on their established VA rating system.

  • 0%: The PTSD symptoms don’t interfere with daily life (including work, school, and family).
  • 30%: Mild symptoms are apparent, but they are not permanent. Veterans with a 30% rating can treat their condition with therapy and medication.
  • 50%: If pronounced symptoms cause problems in the veteran’s work and daily life, the VA rates their PTSD at 50%. 
  • 70%: At this rating, significant problems arise due to the symptoms of PTSD, which impact one’s work, relationships, and daily life. 
  • 100%: This disability rating is quite rare and applies only to disabled veterans who are not equipped to function accordingly in the workplace. They have been socially isolated and are in complete social and occupational impairment. 

What Is Considered Severe PTSD?

PTSD becomes severe if it starts to interfere with relationships and work. As such, those who receive a disability rating of 50% or more are often considered to have severe PTSD.

At What Point Is PTSD a Permanent Disability?

According to the automatic PTSD rating system, Veterans Affairs considers PTSD a permanent and total disability only if a veteran receives a 100% rating. 

Do All Veterans Receive Counseling for PTSD?

Fortunately, regardless of the veteran’s rating, they can still receive the necessary care as a benefit. The VA has over 200 PTSD programs, including free consultation, that can help disabled veterans overcome the challenges of this mental disorder and live a more normal life. 

How Do I Send My PTSD Claim?

To apply for a compensation PTSD VA claim for veterans’ disability benefits, an individual must fill out VA Form 21-0781, also known as the Statement in Support of Claim for Service Connection for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or VA Form 21-0781a, which is also known as the Statement in Support of Claim for Service in Connection for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Secondary to Personal Assault. 

After this, they need to gather supporting documents and evidence, if required, proving their PTSD claim. These include hospital and medical records and supporting statements from relatives, law enforcement, and other relevant parties. 

Compensation for PTSD

Once a VA claim has been approved, the disabled veteran will receive the following benefits:

  • Compensation Payments
  • Health Care
  • Treatment for PTSD

Depending on the VA rating, the payment per veteran may vary. The higher the disability rating, the more monetary compensation they will receive.

How Can Trajector Help Me?

Applying for VA disability benefits for a mental illness like PTSD can be time-consuming and overwhelming. That’s why Trajector offers advice to help veterans receive their deserved disability compensation. 

We aim to make applying for VA disability benefits as convenient as possible and support our fellow veterans in their mental health challenges.

Trajector’s Guide to VA Priority Groups

If you’re a veteran or an active duty service member transitioning to civilian life, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a range of benefits and services for your healthcare needs.

In this veteran benefit guide, we’ll take a closer look at the VA priority groups, what they mean, and how they can affect your eligibility for VA benefits.

What Are Veteran Affairs Priority Groups?

VA Priority groups are a system the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) uses to categorize and prioritize the healthcare services and benefits veterans are eligible for. 

A VA Priority Group is individually based on the severity of a veteran’s service-connected disability, income level, and other VA disability rates

A veteran assigned to higher Priority Groups can access a wider range of VA benefits.

Why Does the VA Have Different Groupings?

Priority groups help determine which veterans most need the VA health care program and long-term care.

For example, veterans with service-connected disabilities are often given higher priority for VA health care as they may have ongoing medical needs related to their service-connected disabilities. 

Veterans and active duty members with higher disability ratings are often given priority over those with lower ratings.

Similarly, veterans experiencing financial hardship or limited access to other healthcare options may be given higher priority for VA healthcare services.

Who Is Counted as Priority One?

Priority Group 1 veterans and active duty members are given the highest priority. They are eligible for disability compensation, employment services, and housing assistance, depending on their income level. 

They may also receive priority access to certain medical benefits, such as prosthetics, orthotics, and rehabilitation.

What Benefits Do Priority Disability Groups Receive?

The health care benefits and services available to priority disability groups depend on the disability’s severity, their income level, and their military service history. 

Some of the benefits that may be available to veterans in priority disability groups include:

  • VA Disability Compensation
  • VA Health Care
  • Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E)
  • Home Loan Guaranty
  • Education and Training
  • Adaptive Housing

Veterans members are encouraged to contact the VA directly to determine their eligibility and for benefits and services enrollment.

How Many Priority Groups Are There?

There are eight priority groups established by the Department of Veterans Affairs, namely:

  • Priority Group 1: Includes veterans who have service-connected disabilities that are 50% or more debilitating or who are deemed unemployed as a result of their disabilities.
  • Priority Group 2: Includes veterans with service-connected impairments that are 30% or 40% debilitating
  • Priority Group 3: Veterans with 10% or 20% debilitating service-connected disabilities.
  • Priority Group 4: Includes veterans who get housebound benefits as well as aid or attendance from the VA
  • Priority Group 5: Includes veterans whose conditions are not service-related, those who have a service-connected disability rated 0% disabling, who are in receipt of pension benefits provided by the VA, or who are qualified to receive Medicaid benefits
  • Priority Group 6: Includes service-connected veterans with 0% compensation; World War II veterans; veterans who participated in Vietnam from January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975; and those who were exposed to ionizing radiation while conducting air tests or during the situation at Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  • Priority Group 7: Includes veterans involved in the Persian Gulf War or after a military operation on November 11, 1998, and those who have not yet enrolled in the VA health care system
  • Priority Group 8: Includes veterans with a certain income level who are okay with paying copays and/or have net wealth greater than the VA national criteria and those who do not otherwise fit into a higher priority group

Contact your local provider to identify which priority group you belong to.

What Is Different About Priority One Benefits?

Priority Group 1 is the highest priority group established by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Veterans in this priority group receive the most comprehensive benefits and services, which may include:

  • Full VA Health Care: This includes the full range of VA health care services, including primary care, specialty care, mental health care, and other medical services.
  • Priority Access to Care: Veterans in Priority 1 may receive appointments sooner than veterans in other priority groups.
  • Copayments: Veterans in Priority Group 1 do not have to pay copayments for VA health care services or medications.
  • VA Disability Compensation: Veterans in Priority Group 1 may be eligible for VA disability compensation based on their service-connected disability rating.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E): Veterans in Priority Group 1 may be eligible for VR&E services to help them overcome barriers to employment due to their service-connected disabilities.
  • Housing Assistance: Veterans in Priority Group 1 may be eligible for VA housing assistance, including home modifications and adaptations grants.
  • Education and Training: Veterans in Priority Group 1 may be eligible for education and training benefits, including tuition assistance, college and vocational training programs, and other educational support.

It’s always best to seek professional advice to assess better the benefits you are eligible for.

Do You Need To Apply Differently If Your Disability Has a High Rating?

In most cases, you do not need to apply differently for benefits and services based on the severity of your disability rating and income level.

However, you may need to provide additional documentation to support your claim for eligibility, depending on the specific benefits and services you seek.

For instance, if you are applying for PTSD VA rating disability compensation, you must provide medical evidence of your mental disability and its relationship to your military service.

The VA will generally review your application as long as you fill out a VA form. If you are eligible, you will be assigned to the appropriate priority group based on the criteria presented by the VA.

Can Disability Rating Change?

Yes, disability ratings can change over time. 

If a veteran’s medical condition improves or worsens, the VA may adjust the veteran’s disability rating. This could result in an increase, decrease, or no change in the compensation and benefits the veteran is receiving.

Veterans can also request a review of their disability rating if they believe it is incorrect.

They can work with a VA representative or an accredited representative from a Veterans Service Organization to file an appeal.

How Can Trajector Help Me?

Trajector can support you as you navigate the complex process of obtaining disability benefits.

We will guide you through submitting your disability benefit application, ensuring that you provide all the necessary information and documentation required.

We can help you understand how to maximize your disability benefits, including accessing other programs and services available to you.

Trajector’s Guide to VA Rating for Migraines

According to the American Migraine Foundation, over 39 million Americans have migraines. However, this number only includes diagnosed and treated cases—some believe the actual number is higher.

Meanwhile, the same foundation stated that U.S. veterans are more likely to experience migraines than civilians. Using data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, about 36% of those who served active duty in Iraq for at least a year showed signs of migraine.

If you are a U.S. veteran and suffer from prostrating migraine headaches, you may be eligible for disability benefits. How much you can claim will depend on the VA rating for migraines. Learn more about this system here.

How Do Migraines Differ From Headaches?

Understandably, some people mistake migraines for severe headaches because others refer to them as migraine headaches, tension headaches, and sinus headaches. However, experts from the American Migraine Foundation consider migraines as disabling neurological diseases.

Their symptoms and treatment approaches differ from common headaches. Common symptoms associated with migraines include:

●      High Pain Levels: Migraines tend to cause pain in the head at severe to intense levels. This kind of pain throbs and pulsates.

●      Multiple Pain Locations: People usually feel migraines in the front or back of the head, sometimes both simultaneously. This pain would pound around the eyes or behind the cheeks.

●      Disabling Pain: Migraine headache pain would force the person to stop moving because any physical activity would worsen the sensations.

●      Nausea: People with migraines usually experience vomiting.

●      Long-lasting Pain: Migraine attacks can last for hours and even days.

Does the VA Count Migraines as a Disability?

Yes, migraines count as disabilities, making U.S. veterans eligible for receiving VA help. However, veterans must prove that the migraines they experience have a military service connection.

For example, a veteran might have developed a mental health condition during their deployment, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), making their migraines secondary to the service-related condition they have. They may also have Gulf War illness, which affects up to 32% of military veterans.

Can Migraines Be Service/PTSD Related?

Yes. One study noted that there’s a connection between PTSD and migraines. If you have either of these conditions, it may be worth asking for a diagnosis of the other one, as well.

How Does the VA Rating System Work?

VA disability ratings depend on the medical evidence that a veteran submits as part of their VA disability claim. The VA may also obtain proof from their military records to validate veterans’ claims. Generally, the VA uses 38 CFR § 4.124a to rate disabilities from 0% to 100% in increments of 10%.

What Rating Do I Need From the VA To Get Migraine Treatment Covered?

Upon VA examination, the department may disburse disability compensation if they rate your condition at least 10%. Here’s a quick guide to determine what rating you are likely to get based on the frequency or level of your migraines:

●      10% VA Rating: You experience prostrating migraine attacks every two months, forcing you to lie down for several months.

●      30% VA Rating: You experience prostrating migraine attacks once a month for several months.

●      50% VA Rating: You experience completely prostrating migraine headaches, leading to economic inadaptability and individual unemployability.

How Many Migraines a Month Is Considered Chronic?

Medical professionals define chronic migraines using the following symptoms:

● At least 15 headaches a month.

● At least eight days of headaches with migraine features.

● Pain that occurs for more than three months.

How Do You Prove Debilitating Migraines to the VA?

You have a few ways to secure the benefits you deserve in a VA claim. Generally, the process involves collecting useful evidence surrounding your medical condition and including them when submitting a filled-out VA form. Some evidence can include:

●      Medical Records: You may include copies of your physician’s diagnosis to back your claim.

●      Employment Records: You may request attendance records from your company’s HR department to prove you missed work due to migraine attacks.

●      Headache Journal: It’s helpful to keep track of the pain you experience during migraine attacks to describe your condition properly.

●      Statements From Loved Ones: Family members, roommates, or friends living with you can share their statements if they witnessed you suffer from migraines.

How Do I Send In My Disability Claim?

The VA accepts disability claims in three ways:

  1. Online: Visit the VA’s disability compensation claim online portal.
  2. In-person: Fill out a printed VA form and mail it to the department’s address.
  3. Trained Professional: Get help from an accredited representative from a reliable third-party company, such as Trajector. We’re licensed to advice you as you complete the paperwork process.

Is It Hard To Get a Migraine Claim Approved?

Although the VA should look at each case fairly and accurately, it can be hard to get VA disability benefits approved. If you get denied, you may appeal the decision on your social security disability benefits using one of three review options:

  1. Supplemental Claim
  2. Higher-Level Review
  3. Board Appeal

Meanwhile, getting a professional to handle your case may be a better way to secure the benefits you deserve if you don’t want to risk denial.

What Are the Potential Benefits I Might Claim?

The pay you obtain as a veteran experiencing any disability will depend on the severity of your condition and its connection to your service. Whether you’re looking at a sleep apnea VA rating, PTSD VA rating, or insomnia VA rating, the numbers involved go from 10, 20, 30 percent, etc. However, the maximum migraine rating is 50% under Diagnostic Code 8100.

You can seek entitlement to TDIU benefits if your case involves migraines secondary to other service-related conditions, such as traumatic brain injury. For more information about VA disability benefits, visit our veteran benefit guide

How Can Trajector Help Me?

At Trajector, we are dedicated to helping veterans secure medical evidence to strengthen their benefits claims. Veterans need just as much help in obtaining essential documents to support their journey. Discuss your circumstances with us today!