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Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder (PTSD) Rating


How Do You Know if You’ve Been Given a Proper VA Disability Rating for PTSD?

As a Veteran in the United States, you might be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is one of the most difficult service-related disabilities to diagnose and classify.

Contrary to popular myth, PTSD is not a “processing disorder” that occurs because the victim “can’t take it.” Instead, PTSD is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Exposure to extreme stress, such as combat stress, enlarges the amygdala. This part of the brain controls emotional responses. The resulting imbalance explains symptoms you may be experiencing like depression, anxiety, hypervigilance, and flashbacks.

As you may know, the brain is adept at hiding its own injuries. As a result, many PTSD victims are unaware of the full extent of their injuries.

Your VA disability attorney will use medical and lay evidence to address these issues. Solid medical evidence reveals the true nature of the injury. “Buddy statements” and other lay testimony from your friends and family set forth the full extent of your PTSD and how your brain injury affects your daily life.

A VA disability rating for PTSD is based on statutes that outline what symptoms meet which level of disability. PTSD is only rated at 10%, 30%, 50%, 70% or 100%. It’s important to be as honest as you can with the VA examiners about the severity of your symptoms. Please note you don’t have to meet all the symptoms in the rating level in order to be rated at that level.

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For a 10% rating, the aforementioned symptoms are transient or sporadic. For example, you might have nightmares, but they do not occur every night and you are usually able to go back to sleep. Alternatively, your symptoms might be more severe, but medication either controls or eliminates them.


This disability rating is perhaps the most common one. It is appropriate if the aforementioned symptoms are worse but still manageable. Let’s return to the nightmares example. If your nightmares are more frequent and/or more severe, you might have a harder time sleeping through the night, at least on a bad day. As a result, you are groggy the next day, especially in the morning hours. At that point, the PTSD symptoms interfere with social interaction and job performance, even though you are “generally” able to function “satisfactorily.”


The first two ratings focus on overall effects. The higher three focus on specific symptoms. A 50% rating is appropriate if symptoms include:

• Flat or lethargic outlook,
• Speech impairment,
• Judgment, memory, and/or thought impairment,
• Weekly panic attacks, or
• Difficulty in understanding complex instructions or maintaining healthy social

Remember, if you disagree with your Compensation and Pension doctor’s assessment, you have the right to appeal.


At this level, you are likely struggling with maintaining employment. Holding down a job might be out of the question for you. Specific symptoms include:

• Suicidal thoughts,
• Obsessive focus on rituals,
• “Near-continuous” panic attacks or depression,
• Emotional outbursts, mostly irrational anger,
• Inability to manage stressful situations, and
• Neglect of personal hygiene.

Since veterans with a 70% disability rating may be struggling with employment, a Total Disability due to Individual Unemployability claim might be an option. You would have a 70% rating but paid at the 100% level due to unemployability.


Generally, you either are unable to leave your house or need constant supervision. Some total disability symptoms include:

• Gross thought impairment,
• Hallucinations and/or delusions,
• Disorientation as to place, time, and situation,
• Near-complete memory loss, and
• Danger to self or others.

Because there are so many possible ratings, your attorney might order an Independent Medical Examination to show the higher level of symptoms or to counter a negative VA C&P exam. IME physicians often reach different conclusions from VA doctors or can be more thorough in the exam report. Additionally, they often interview spouses, which can provide a more accurate picture of the level of severity of the PTSD.

Reach Out to an Experienced Attorney

Service-related PTSD often causes severe disabilities. For a free consultation with an experienced VA disability lawyer in San Diego, contact the Veterans Law Group. We represent veterans on a nationwide basis.

Types of Claims

Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and other In-Service Assaults

PTSD claims based upon Military Sexual Trauma or other types of in-service assaults, present unique… Read more »


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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”)

PTSD is probably the most common psychiatric disorder associated with military conflict… Read more »

Psychiatric Disabilities

Veterans seeking service connection for psychiatric disorders or increased ratings for these disorders… Read more »

Personality Disorders

The so-called personality disorder diagnosis is the darling of the VA. A personality disorder is not… Read more »

Gulf War Syndrome

Many Gulf War veterans suffer from illnesses which the medically community does not clearly understand. Read more »

Accrued Benefits Claims

An accrued benefit is not considered a death benefit, but a benefit owed to the veteran for a period prior… Read more »

Severe Back Injury

Back disabilities ratings are commonly based upon the length of incapacitating episodes…Read more »

Severe Head Injury/TBI
Neurological Disorders

There are several different disabilities that fall into the category of Neurological Disorders. Read more »

Severe Heart Disease

There are many severe heart diseases contemplated by the VA disability system, including: valvular heart… Read more »

Agent Orange Exposure

“Agent Orange” refers to a mix of tactical herbicides the U.S. military sprayed in the jungles of Vietnam…Read more »

Severe Pulmonary Disorders

The list of severe pulmonary disorders is long. It includes: chronic bronchitisasthmaemphysemachronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), tuberculosisasbestosis and so forth. Read more »

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