How PTSD and Disability are Related for VA Service Connection

How PTSD and Disability are Related for VA Service Connection


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the most common mental health problem experienced by Veterans who have encountered combat or combat training. This data is according to the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA).  How PTSD and Disability are related is one of the most common questions we recieve from Veterans seeking treatment and compensation for their service-connected injuries. 


PTSD and Disability, Broken Down

Before we cover how PTSD and Disability are related for VA purposes, we should cover PTSD can occur when someone is put in a situation that elicits fear of or actual death, serious injury, witnessing an event of death, or learning of the death or serious injury of a family member or friend.

For a you to receive disability benefits for PTSD, you must Establish a direct service connection if the PTSD is combat related. To establish a direct service connection, you no longer need to prove the traumatic event that caused PTSD occurred. This applies to both combat veterans and any veterans that experienced hostile or terrorist activity.


PTSD Disabilty Requirements for Service Connection

The requirements to establish a direct service connection to PTSD And Disability:

  • Current diagnosis of PTSD
    • This diagnosis must be done by a psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed social worker or another behavioral health practitioner.
    • The PTSD diagnosis must meet specific criteria and the doctor must provide a report why it is believed you have PTSD and how your symptoms fit the specific criteria.
    • You may file for service connection for PTSD or a related behavioral health condition, but you will need a diagnosis before your service connected decision is granted.
  • In-service stressor
    • You must show that an event or series of events caused (or made worse) your PTSD during your service. You do not need to have been in combat, but there is different requirement for combat vs non-combat events.
    • Records that may prove combat experience include your DD214, medals and/or awards received, and unit records showing the dates and locations of unit assignments.
    • For non-combat events, you may be able to include statements from fellow veterans that served with you and statements from friends and family that knew you before and after your service and can attest to your changes.
  • Any proof you may have of the stressor event or conditions occurring. This clear event stressor is not strictly required but makes for a less challenging fight with the VA.
  • A Department of Veterans Affairs or VA contracted psychologist/psychiatrist’s opinion the stressor was sufficient to cause PTSD. If you are near a Vet Center they can help with this. They have licensed social workers that can document the connection between your diagnosis and the stressor.
  • Veterans who have experienced rape or sexual harassment that caused PTSD are also eligible for disability benefits, but they do have to prove that the sexual trauma occurred.
  • Other events can happen that can cause PTSD in veterans before they even join the military. In that case, to receive service-connected PTSD and Disability benefits, they must prove that their service has made the disorder worse.


After Meeting the Criteria: PTSD and Disability Compensation

Once you apply for disability benefits and it is established you have PTSD, and that there is a service connection, the VA will assign a disability rating. The rating is based on a percentage of disability, how severe your symptoms are, how often they occur, the length of remissions or improvement, and how much you can work and socially function.

Service Connected Disability benefits are measured in severity increments of 10%; from 10% to 100%. For example, a veteran who has mild PTSD or if the symptoms are infrequent and are controlled well with medication, the disability rating might be 10%. The VA uses the disability rating to determine what benefits you are eligible for and how much compensation you may receive. Benefits can include health care, compensation, and treatment for your PTSD.


If you are considering or fighting a VA disability claim for PTSD, you might want to look at this article about PTSD and Social Security as well!



Written by Lilac City Law

Lilac City Law

Lilac City Law offers more than just a legal service—we provide an experience designed to help you get precise, personalized results. We believe this approach is more pleasant for you during your time of need, and more importantly, it can completely reshape the outcome of your legal efforts. Our team offers a combination of experience, attention to detail, and knowledge to help you get dependable results.