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Why does your PTSD rating seem so low to you? Your PTSD rating may be increased if you are dissatisfied with the VA's decision. The VA assigns PTSD and all mental health claims with 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, and 100% percentage ratings.
Many veterans do not receive the mental health ratings they deserve for PTSD and other mental health issues in the real world. Mentally ill veterans, including those diagnosed with PTSD, can receive the appropriate rating from VA - 50, 70, or 100 percent.
The VA must consider your mental and physical impairments when determining your VA disability benefits. The more impairments you have and the more severe they are the higher your VA rating.
How Does a Veteran Request a PTSD Rating Increase?
A request for a decision review is generally allowed one year after the date of your decision. The following new options are available to veterans when appealing a decision or seeking a decision review:
- choose a higher-level review,
- supplemental claim, or
- appeal to the BVA.
Ways We Can Help Increase Your PTSD Rating
The causes of PTSD are different for each claimant due to the social and occupational factors involved. PTSD claims are handled differently under VA law. The following examples show how attorneys can help veterans get the ratings they deserve when the VA gets it wrong or if their original claim was inadequate.
VA Overlooks Symptoms, Causing Errors in Analysis
According to VA, ratings are based on a checklist of symptoms. The criteria are written using the word "such as" - for example, "due to symptoms such as suicidal ideation; obsessional rituals affecting routine activities; intermittent illogical speech, etc.".
A key aspect of PTSD claims is that VA raters may review the veteran's symptoms, only looking at those within the 50%, 70%, or 100% ratings. The higher rating is dismissed when the VA does not mention those symptoms.
VA is not limited to only those symptoms that are listed. The VA considers all symptoms as a complete and holistic analysis before determining the appropriate rating percentage. For example, we can often demonstrate to the VA how symptoms of a low mental health rating are frequent, severe, and long-lived and thus deserve a higher rating.
In the 30% assessment, "anxiety" and "chronic sleep impairment" are explicitly listed as criteria. After their deployment, our clients have suffered from anxiety and sleep deprivation whether they were deployed in Vietnam or engaged in operations against al-Qaeda. The veteran's impairments gradually strain and push him past his limit, resulting in severe functional decline and inability to cope.
In reality, VA staff often look at their forms as a checklist rather than a comprehensive approach. If you qualify for the 30% disability rating for "anxiety" and "chronic sleep impairment," you may only be given the 30% disability rating. However, your real mental health picture is much more serious when considering how these symptoms affect your everyday life.
Fortify the Veteran’s Occupational Disabilities
Social factors are sometimes given higher priority than occupational factors in PTSD ratings. To qualify for VA disability benefits, you need to demonstrate your inability to work and earn a living. If we file for an increase in ratings, we develop a strong case based on vocational factors and social factors. To prove that your PTSD symptoms impair your ability to get and keep a steady job, you must show that your PTSD symptoms occur frequently, are severe, and persist for a lengthy period.
Your Post Traumatic Stress Has Worsened
Several medical conditions can worsen over time, and PTSD is one. If your disability has caused your health to deteriorate, you can request an increase in your VA compensation.
It will be your responsibility to prove that your PTSD has deteriorated through medical evidence to warrant an increased rating. VA will examine your medical records and any further evidence to determine whether your claim for a higher rating is legitimate. Friends and family might substantiate your symptoms' deterioration over time by giving statements confirming your illness.
Getting TDIU (100%) for PTSD Rating
If you cannot find or maintain a job due to post-traumatic stress, you may be eligible for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU). If the VA determines that the veteran is incapable of working because of a service-connected disability, TDIU pays 100%.
Eligibility for TDIU may be schedular or extraschedular:
- Schedular TDIU: You can't work, and you meet 60 percent or a combination of 60 and 70 percent of the criteria.
- Extraschedular TDIU: You are not qualified to work, and your 60-percent or combined 70-percent rate does not meet the above requirement.
Veterans who do not qualify for the full schedular rating can apply for TDIU as an alternative route to 100%. The problem is that many veterans are unaware they can receive higher-paying benefits.
Do not assume the VA will give you TDIU benefits; you must request them and demonstrate them thoroughly. Utilizing VA form 21-8940, Veteran's Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployment, you can file for individual unemployment benefits.
Without this form, the TDIU claim will be considered incomplete, and VA will not take action. As a result, VA will deny your claim. Veterans seeking TDIU benefits can demonstrate to the VA how posttraumatic stress prevents them from working as outlined below:
- Ensure that all existing mental health treatment records and counseling materials from the VA are in good condition;
- Provide all medical reports of PTSD symptoms the veteran has received from the VA;
- Families, friends, spouses, military colleagues, employers, and co-workers who have witnessed how the veteran's PTSD symptoms impact his occupational, social, and personal functioning should provide substantive lay statements;
- Incorporate objective evidence, including private medical and expert opinions, to support the fact that the veteran's condition impairs their ability to work;
- Indicators of unemployability include recent firings or the inability to hold a job, special accommodations the employer must make to accommodate the veteran's PTSD or complaints from employers and co-workers about job performance.
Applying for Social Security benefits can be an overwhelming process. If you are interested in seeking SSDI benefits, check out our article about the signs of a good SSDI hearing. To learn more, visit DisabilityHelp.org today!