VA Examination for PTSD Rating
If you are a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), you could be entitled to tax-free monthly payments and coverage for your medical and psychological treatment through VA disability benefits. The process of collecting what you deserve requires that you undergo a thorough medical analysis to generate evidence in support of your claim. It can take time and an understanding of the process to receive the best benefits possible, which many veterans do not have. Working with one of the VA disability lawyers from our VA benefits law firm ensures that your examination is accurate and the benefits you receive are complete.
The Evaluation Process
To evaluate your symptoms to determine if you might have PTSD, the VA applies the criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V). The VA applies the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) to assist in the monitoring, screening, and diagnosis of PTSD. When you first contact the VA for assistance, the PCL-5 may also be used to make a provisional PTSD diagnosis so that you can begin receiving medical and psychological treatment while your application processes.
You’ll also undergo the VA Compensation and Pension (C&P) Exam, through which your current symptoms will be assessed and measured. It is helpful to provide the VA with as much evidence about your condition as possible. This includes statements from medical and mental health professionals and can also include buddy statements, which are statements from individuals who have witnessed your PTSD firsthand. This could be individuals you served on active duty with who witnessed the event that led to your PTSD or statements from your family and close friends concerning your symptoms. In addition, to obtain the higher level ratings for PTSD, it is important to tell the VA examiner, if true, about any suicidal thoughts. These can be active thoughts about committing suicide, or passive thoughts about not wanting to be alive anymore. Veterans often struggle with these thoughts but rarely verbalize them for fear of being involuntarily hospitalized. By failing to ensure documentation of suicidal thoughts, veterans often end up with lower rating than they should have.
In addition, if you have had legal troubles, such as being charged with assault or other violent behavior, it is crucial that VA have the evidence of these problems, because such actions should justify the highest possible VA rating for PTSD.
The Importance of Providing Detailed Evidence About Symptoms and Functional Impairment
The evidence that you provide to the VA in support of your condition will determine your VA PTSD rating. Your rating is on a percentage scale ranging from 0 percent to 100 percent, and the difference is quite substantial. For example, at the time of this writing in 2023, the compensation rate for veterans with a 10 percent disability rating is $165.92 in tax-free income each month, while a veteran with a 100 percent disability rating would be eligible to receive $3,621.95 per month in tax-free income.
The Role of the Examiner in Determining the Severity of Your PTSD
It is important to understand that your C&P exam and the assessment of your PTSD may not be as thorough as you might like. Providing the VA with extensive evidence is important, and also bringing a witness to your C&P exam if possible. Write a statement following your exam, and ask your witness to do the same, with thoughts about the extensiveness of the exam, and whether or not you thought enough time and consideration was provided. This could be important evidence for a later appeal.