The authority for diagnosing psychological disorders, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), amends how mental health evaluators evaluate patients. But it includes one specific change that may impact how veterans are rated in PTSD examinations.
Unlike past editions, the DSM-5 does not utilize the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) score. In a nutshell, the GAF score is a number assigned by the mental health examiner to assess the patient’s overall level of functioning. Lower GAF scores indicate a lower level of functioning. VA adjudicators routinely took these scores into consideration when rating veterans. This was true even though the rating schedule for PTSD and other mental health conditions does not mention the GAF score as a relevant consideration.
VA mental healthcare providers have begun using the DSM-5. In the event a veteran does not receive a mental health diagnosis under the DSM-5, evaluators are to consider the veteran under the old criteria.