What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. Symptoms of PTSD usually begin within three months of the traumatic incident, but sometimes begin years afterwards. In order to receive a diagnosis of PTSD, symptoms must last more than one month and be severe enough to interfere with relationships or work. Specific diagnostic criteria for PTSD is divided into different types of symptoms, including:
- Re-experiencing Symptoms. Includes flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts.
- Avoidance Symptoms. Includes staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the traumatic experience and avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event.
- Arousal and Reactivity Symptoms. Includes being easily startled, feeling tense or on edge, having difficulty sleeping, and having angry outbursts.
- Cognition and Mood Symptoms. Includes trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event, negative thoughts about oneself or the world, distorted feelings like guilt or blame, and loss of interest in enjoyable activities.
PTSD can be short term or chronic depending on the individual and the circumstances. Regardless, the main treatments for people with PTSD are medications and psychotherapy, or both.
VA Disability Ratings for PTSD
To prove PTSD to the VA and establish a direct service connection, veterans must show (1) a current diagnosis of PTSD; (2) an in-service stressor; and (3) a medical link between the current diagnosed PTSD and the in-service stressor.
After service connection is established the VA will assign a disability rating. To determine this rating the VA uses the General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders. This rating scale ranges from 0 to 100 percent with in-between ratings of 10, 30, 50, and 70 percent.
Under limited circumstances, veterans may be assigned a permanent and total disability rating for PTSD.
What are Permanent and Total VA Disability Ratings?
Permanent and total disability, or P&T, refers to veterans whose disabilities are total (rated 100 percent disabling by the VA) and permanent (zero or close to zero chance of improvement). P&T ratings are protected from being reduced and may entitle a veteran or their family to additional VA benefits.
The VA deems a disability “permanent” when it is reasonably certain that the level of impairment will continue for the rest of the veteran’s life. For this reason, the VA is allowed to take age into account when determining whether a disability is permanent.
Veterans’ conditions are based on the VA’s Schedule of Rating Disabilities. The rating levels for each type of disability are based on how much the residuals of said disability impair their ability to function in life and at work. An 100 percent rating indicates that the disability is completely or totally disabling.
How does this Apply to PTSD?
A PTSD rating may become permanent and total if the VA determines that it meets the 100 percent criteria and there is zero chance of improvement.
The rating criteria for a total disability rating for PTSD are:
- 100% – Total occupational and social impairment, due to such symptoms as: gross impairment in thought processes or communication; persistent delusions or hallucinations; grossly inappropriate behavior; persistent danger of hurting self or others; intermittent inability to perform activities of daily living (including maintenance of minimal personal hygiene); disorientation to time or place; memory loss for names of close relatives, own occupation, or own name.
The VA should automatically consider whether a veteran’s PTSD qualifies for permanent and total status when adjudicating their claim. If the VA has awarded permanent and total status for PTSD it will most likely be indicated in the decision letter.
Bosley & Bratch have been supporting veterans in getting the benefits they deserve since 1995. If you or a loved one served, and suffer from PTSD, we are here to help. Call Bosley & Bratch at (727) 274-9227 or complete our free veterans benefits case evaluation form.