How Can I Increase My PTSD Rating?

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Over the past 20 years, the country has seen a sharp increase of veterans returning from combat with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is a serious mental health condition occurring in individuals who have witnessed a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD can be debilitating, and often include recurrent and unwanted memories of the event, upsetting nightmares about the event, and severe stress or emotional reactions to events, people, and locations that remind you of it. It is not uncommon for veterans suffering from PTSD to wish to increase their PTSD rating.

The rating received for your PTSD will directly impact the amount you will be able to get in disability benefits. If you have received a disability rating for PTSD that you believe is too low in light of the symptoms and impacts you’re experiencing, you can seek to increase it. However, you will have to prove that your condition has worsened since you received your initial rating.

How PTSD Ratings are Determined

In order to determine a rating for PTSD, the VA evaluates factors such as:

  • How frequently you experience PTSD symptoms.
  • How long you have been suffering from PTSD
  • How much your PTSD symptoms impact your life from a social and occupational standpoint.

As you can likely guess, the more severe your PTSD symptoms are, the longer you have been suffering from these symptoms, and the more they affect your personal relationships and career, the higher your rating will be. When making a decision, the VA looks at a specific list of symptoms that can qualify the veteran for a 10, 30, 50, 70, or 100% rating. Although you do not have to experience every symptom on the list for a specific rating, the VA often erroneously dismisses the higher rating. Because the rating schedule fails to completely describe the severity levels of each rating level, this can result in a lower rating than the veteran’s condition warrants. Here are some of the symptoms of the disability ratings for PTSD:

  • At a 100% rating, the veteran presents with total occupational and social impairment and is experiencing symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations, unacceptably inappropriate behavior, a constant danger of self-harm or harm to others, frequent inability to perform personal care tasks, memory loss involving extremely familiar information, such as the names of family members.
  • At a 70% rating, the veteran experiences occupational and social impairment with deficiencies in most areas, suicidal ideations, obsessional rituals that interfere with routine activities, and nearly continuous panic or depression that affects the veteran’s ability to function independently.
  • At a 50% rating, the veteran is impaired both occupationally and socially, with reduced reliability and productivity as well as symptoms that can include panic attacks more than once a week, difficulty understanding complex commands, impairment of short-term and long-term memory, and disturbances in motivation and mood.
  • At a 30% rating, the veteran is experiencing an occasional decrease in work efficiency due to occupational and social impairment, as well as symptoms such as depression, anxiety, chronic sleep impairment, and mild memory loss.

How to Increase Your Rating

Unfortunately, many veterans received a VA disability rating for PTSD that was too low to start. However, if it has been less than a year since the date the decision on your PTSD rating was made, you are eligible to appeal that decision and request a decision review. In order to accurately portray the severity of your PTSD in order to increase your disability rating, you can focus on several factors during your decision review, such as:

  • The occupational impacts you have incurred as a result of your condition. The foundation of all VA disability claims is to show how your disability has impacted your ability to work and earn a living. Providing documentation or information that reveals that the frequency and severity of your PTSD symptoms has impacted your ability to work will often result in a higher rating.
  • Statements from family, friends, or even your employer that substantiate a claim that your PTSD symptoms have worsened over time or were more severe than originally documented.
  • Obtaining a Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU), which is a 100% disability rating that is provided if the VA determines that a veteran is unable to work due to a service-connected condition. You can obtain a TDIU rating by applying for an increase in compensation based on unemployability by filing VA Form 21-8940, a formal request for VA Individual Unemployability.

An Experienced VA Benefits Attorney Can Assist You

An experienced VA disability attorney understands not only how the VA rates PTSD but the evidence that veterans need to provide in order to show that their condition has worsened with time and warrants an increased rating. We can help you with a decision review, or can even assist you in obtaining the documentation you would need to obtain a TDIU.

Contact us today for a free case review.

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Please fill out the form below, or give us a call, and we will get back to you as soon as possible. The more detail you can provide, the better we can determine if we can help you. (And even if we can’t take your case, we will do our best to offer other options, and point you in the best direction we can!)

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