Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) VA Rating

Post-traumatic stress can happen after someone goes through a traumatic event such as combat, an assault, or a disaster.  Most people have some stress following these events, but when the reactions don’t go away, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

If you’re a Veteran, you may qualify for VA benefits if you are successfully approved for a PTSD disability rating.  Benefits can include health care, compensation payments, and treatment for PTSD.  Here’s what you need to know about getting a PTSD VA disability rating.

Causes of Service-Related PTSD

Studies of Afghanistan and Iraq War Veterans have shown that as many as 30% have developed PTSD. For Veterans who saw combat, the risk of developing PTSD is even higher.

Veterans who have experienced extreme stress related to their military service, either through combat or other stressors, will go through a period of shock or other similar symptoms.  That is normal but often dissipates over time.  When it does not, and your nervous system can’t shed the symptoms, you may be suffering from PTSD.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sometimes known as shell shock or combat stress, occurs after you experience severe trauma or a life-threatening event. It’s normal for your mind and body to be in shock after such an event, but this normal response becomes PTSD when your nervous system becomes immobilized due to too much stress in a situation, and even though the danger has passed, you find yourself “stuck.”

PTSD Symptoms


Veterans who experience a traumatic event during their military service may exhibit the following reactions:

  • Shock and terror
  • Anger and irritability
  • Feelings of helplessness and unhappiness
  • Inability to concentrate and make decisions
  • Confusion
  • Nightmares
  • Decreased self-esteem
  • Extreme exhaustion
  • Inability to sleep
  • Decreased appetite
  • Headaches
  • Social withdrawal
  • Feelings of alienation

PTSD symptoms fall into four general categories, including:

  • Re-experiencing the event, such as through nightmares or flashbacks.
  • Avoiding similar situations by staying away from people or situations that trigger memories of the trauma.
  • Experiencing a change in feelings and beliefs, including guilt, disinterest in life, and a lack of trust in others.
  • Feeling on edge, creating hyperarousal that shows itself as being agitated, jittery, angry, or irritable, or reckless, or engaging in unhealthy habits such as smoking or drug and alcohol abuse.

The VA reviews post-service disability claims, meaning that if the PTSD didn’t appear until after active-duty service, it might still be covered as long as Veterans can show the service caused the condition.

For Veteran disability rating purposes, the VA considers traumatic events to be those where a servicemember suffered a serious injury, personal or sexual trauma, or sexual violation, or

The service member was threatened with injury, sexual assault, or death

How Does the VA Determine PTSD Ratings?

In general, VA disability ratings range from 0% to 100%.  However, for PTSD claims, the standard ratings are 0%, 30%, 50%, 70%, and 100%. These ratings are intended to capture the severity of your condition and how much it affects your ability to work and take care of everyday life tasks.

Here’s how the VA determines what percentage of a disability rating to assign to Veterans.

0% Rating.  
This indicates that your PTSD doesn’t interfere with your work, school, or family life. This is not a common rating because it doesn’t make much sense for someone with a PTSD diagnosis to not experience its disabling impacts.

30% Rating.  
You have mild intermittent symptoms that come and go depending on your stress level. At this level, medication and therapy can be effective at mitigating symptoms.

50% Rating. 
This applies when PTSD causes more pronounced problems at your work and daily life.

70% Rating. 
This indicates PTSD causes significant and frequent difficulties in your daily life, such as near-continuous panic attacks, trouble working and maintaining healthy relationships.

100% Rating.  
This rating is rare and applies to Veterans who cannot function in the workplace and have become socially isolated. The clinical term for a 100% rating is complete occupational and social impairment.

Current VA Disability Rates for PTSD

Your 2023 monthly Veterans disability compensation payment amount is based on your disability rating and details about your dependent family members.  If your spouse receives Aid and Attendance benefits, you will receive an additional amount over and above the Basic monthly rate. The following rates are what you can expect to receive if your disability rating is approved.

Dependent status30% disability rating (in U.S. $)50% disability rating (in U.S. $)70% disability rating (in U.S. $)100% disability rating (in U.S. $)
Veteran alone (no dependents)508.051,041.821,663.063,621.95
With spouse (no parents or children)568.051,141.821,804.063,823.89
With spouse and 1 parent (no children)616.051,222.821,917.063,985.96
With spouse and 2 parents (no children)664.051,303.822,030.064,148.03
With 1 parent (no spouse or children)556.051,122.821,776.063,784.02
With 2 parents (no spouse or children)604.051,203.821,889.06



How to Establish a Service Connection to Get a PTSD VA Disability Rating

In 2010, the VA changed its eligibility requirements for Veterans to receive disability benefits for PTSD. No longer do Veterans have to provide proof of the event that caused their PTSD. This new rule is for combat soldiers as well as for any Veterans who suffered fear of a hostile environment or terrorist activity. However, you must be able to establish a service connection for your PTSD to successfully get a VA disability rating. To establish this connection, a Veteran must:

  • Have a current diagnosis of PTSD.
  • Provide a written statement about the traumatic event (the stressor) that occurred during your military service.
  • Have a written medical opinion from a psychologist or psychiatrist explaining that they believe the stressor was significant enough to cause PTSD.

If you had PTSD prior to your military service, the VA won’t provide benefits as a service-connected condition. However, you may be eligible if you can establish an “aggravated service connection.” by showing your combat duty made your PTSD worse.

If you think you meet these conditions, working with Veteran Ratings and our network of consultants and medical professionals to guide you through gathering documentation before you file a claim will give you the best chance for approval at the highest disability percentage possible.

Documentation Needed for VA Disability Claims for PTSD

You will need to gather and complete several documents that you will submit with your disability claim. Veteran Ratings can help guide you through this process by connecting you with our network of consultants and medical professionals who thoroughly understand the documentation and the process you will go through in preparing and submitting your claim.

You will support your PTSD disability claim by providing the VA with these documents.

  • VA medical records and hospital records.
  • Private medical records and hospital reports.
  • Supporting “buddy statements” from family members, friends, clergy members, law enforcement personnel, or people you served with.
  • A Statement in Support of Claim for Service Connection for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (VA Form 21-0781) or A Statement in Support of Claim for Service Connection for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Secondary to Personal Assault (VA Form 21-0781a).


The VA will also review your discharge papers and service treatment records.  Veterans may be required to go through a claim exam so that the VA can learn more about the details of your PTSD condition.



PTSD C&P Exams

The VA claim exam, called a C&P exam, differs from a regular medical appointment and only occurs if you file a compensation or pension claim for the first time. The VA uses these exams to help determine if your disability is service-connected, the level of your disability, or if your condition should receive an increased rating due to it worsening. You are allowed to utilize a third-party medical provider for your exam if you already have a rating.

Exams may last as little as 15 minutes or an hour or longer, depending on the circumstances of your case.  An examiner may ask questions, conduct a limited physical exam or simply review your files with you.

The best way to go through a C&P exam is to be well prepared with complete medical evidence and documentation you submit with your application.  For first-time filers, Veteran Ratings consulting partners will help prepare you on what to expect at your C&P exam.

Veteran Ratings and our Veteran consulting partners will walk you through the entire process leading up to your C&P exam if you are a first-time filer. If you are seeking an increase, not only will we guide you through the process but we refer you to our private network of doctors who will provide a medical examination.

How To Strengthen Your Claim And Get The Highest VA Rating For PTSD

The best evidence for your PTSD disability claim will give you the strongest chance for approval at the highest rating. The more quality documentation you can provide, including medical records, buddy statements, occupational impacts, and how your symptoms have gotten worse are critical as part of the submission process.

Veteran Ratings can pair you up with a Veteran consulting partner that can guide you in what evidence and documentation is needed for your PTSD claim.  You may also be guided to one or more medical professionals in our partner’s nationwide network of providers who are experienced in developing the documentation you need to strengthen your claim.

We have a 95% success rate in assisting Veterans with their initial claim submissions.  When you will save time and gain peace of mind knowing you are creating your best chance for approval.

What to Do if Your Veteran Disability Claim for PTSD is Denied

If your claim is denied, you will receive a denial letter from the VA on how they reached their decision. You can use this information to determine what new evidence you should submit with your appeal, which you must do within one year after you get the decision letter.

Due to the complex nature of supplemental claims and appeals, Veteran Ratings and our consulting partners only provide guidance to current clients.

Veteran Ratings: Simplifying the PTSD VA Ratings Process

Submitting a VA disability claim can be daunting, so it makes sense to get help from Veteran Ratings to help guide you through the entire process.  We have a 95% initial submission success rate, and through our experienced network of consultants and medical professionals, we can significantly increase your chances for approval of your PTSD claim at the highest possible rating.

FAQs About PTSD VA Ratings

How long do I have to submit additional evidence to support my claim?

You have up to a year from the date the VA receives your claim to turn in any additional evidence.  However, this is rarely a needed step when you work with Veteran Ratings since we have a thorough quality assurance process that virtually eliminates incomplete or inaccurate documentation you need to gather when you initially submit your claim.  This saves valuable time when working to get your PTSD disability claim approved.

Is PTSD an automatic 100% VA disability?

No. In fact, most Veterans receive less than a 100% disability rating unless their documented symptoms are severe and result in complete occupational and social impairment.

Can I submit a PTSD claim if I was never combat deployed?

Yes. Because the military is a unique work environment that exposes service members to various dangerous work conditions, the battlefield isn’t the only triggering event for PTSD in Veterans.

PTSD can be caused by exposure to direct or indirect fire, Military Sexual Trauma (MST), and other training situations within non-combat zones.

Can I receive multiple VA ratings for multiple mental health conditions, including PTSD?

Since mental health conditions share similar symptomology, the VA will consider the combined effects of the conditions to determine the overall level of occupational and social impairment. Although you may have more than one diagnosed mental disorder, you will only be assigned one disability rating.

Is PTSD challenging VA disability to prove?

Like all other VA disability claims, if you are thorough and methodical in documenting your condition, you will have the best chance to gain approval for your claim. This is where Veteran Ratings can make your submission process easier when you allow our network of consultants and medical professionals to guide and assist you.

How often does the VA re-evaluate PTSD?

Re-evaluations are called periodic future examinations and may be scheduled every 2 to 5 years in many cases.

Can my PTSD rating be increased if my symptoms worsen over time?

If you have received a disability rating for PTSD that you believe is too low due to the current symptoms and impacts you’re experiencing, you can request a rating increase with the help of Veteran Ratings and our consulting partners. However, must prove that your condition has worsened since you received your initial rating.

How long does it take to receive a decision on my PTSD claim?

According to the VA, it takes slightly over 100 days to complete disability-related claim reviews as of June 2023.

Get In Touch

If you are struggling with your VA disability rating or want to learn more about our service, please get in touch with our Veteran Ratings team.

Don’t hesitate! We are happy to answer any of your questions and provide guidance for your unique case.

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