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.
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.