Common VA Mistakes With PTSD and Mental Disability Cases

In a PTSD case where a veteran claims that a stressor happened in service, the stressor will generally have to be verified. (There are exceptions to this rule). The VA will frequently:

1. Deny the claim on the grounds that the stressor is not verified and that the veteran did not provide enough information to verify the stressor. However, veterans often will provide enough information to enable VA to verify the stressor, and it is error for VA to not make efforts to verify the stressor events.

2. Fail to submit the stressor information to the JSRRC, which is part of the government that is assigned the task of researching. The VA cannot simply do its own research and then deny the claim.

When evaluating what rating to assign a PTSD or mental disability case, the VA will frequently make the mistake of expecting the veteran to exhibit most of the symptoms listed in the rating formula before granting the higher rating. Under the Court’s cases, this is error. The VA must look at the overall picture of your mental disability and determine whether you suffer symptoms or effects that result in occupational or social impairment that would be similar to the symptoms listed in the rating formula. If you analyze a Board decision and it appears as if the Board is requiring you to have all the symptoms listed under the rating criteria, then there may be a VA error.

In addition, the VA also likes to deny PTSD claims on the grounds that you don’t have a diagnosis of PTSD. In many cases, however, if you are not diagnosed with PTSD you may be diagnosed with depression or generalized anxiety. It would be error for the VA to reject your PTSD claim on the grounds that you have depression instead. The VA would have to investigate whether service-connection is appropriate for depression or some other mental disability.

The VA also makes errors in how they rate a mental disability. Frequently, if you are already service-connected for a mental disability the VA will often give you a rating that is too low. In doing so, the VA will incorrectly expect you to have all of the symptoms listed under the rating criteria. This may be error, and you should consult legal counsel if this has happened to you.