As an injured veteran, you may have questions about what type of compensation is available to you and how much.
Your livelihood was affected by your injury while serving your country, and there are programs in place to help compensate you for these injuries.
VA disability is available for a variety of disabilities. One common disability amongst veterans is PTSD.
One common question amongst vets is: what qualifies for an automatic 50 PTSD rating?
If you aren’t sure what a VA disability rating is, what a 50 rating means, or even what the symptoms of PTSD are, let’s start there.
What is a VA Disability Rating?
In order to determine the amount that you should be compensated for your injuries, the Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) has set up a rating system that allows them to easily designate a specific amount of monthly payment you will get.
As primary injuries are often accompanied by secondary conditions (issues arising from the initial condition) ratings can be combined to give you a higher total.
This combination isn’t as easy as adding the two (or more) numbers together. You can use the Combined Disability Rating Calculator on the VA website to see what your likely rating may be.
It’s important to note that the amount of monthly compensation you get also depends on your living situation.
If you have a rating of 30% or more you can qualify for additional income depending on your number of dependents and marital status.
Symptoms of PTSD
PTSD can only be diagnosed by a medical professional. It is important to note that you will also need a medical professional to write a nexus letter for each of your service-connected disabilities to show the VA that your injuries are related to your service.
Even though you need a medical professional for an official diagnosis, it’s still important to be aware of the symptoms of PTSD so that you know you need to go get checked out in the first place.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some of these symptoms are:
- Recurrence of unwanted memories or reliving distressing situations
- Avoiding places and activities that remind you of traumatic events
- Stark changes in mood or thinking
- Feelings of detachment
- Changes in how you react to things physically and emotionally
- Trouble sleeping or concentrating
Note that these are just a few of the main symptoms of PTSD, but there are many others that may occur with this condition.
We are not medical professionals. If you suffer from these or other symptoms you believe may be PTSD, please seek professional medical guidance.
What is the Average Disability Rating for PTSD?
There are currently 31 mental disorders listed in the Schedule of Ratings § 4.130, including PTSD.
The Schedule of Ratings is what the VA will use to determine your level of disability and assign your overall rating.
There is no hard and fast “average” rating for what veterans are awarded for their PTSD. Every case is unique and must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. It’s better to forget about averages and automatic 50 PTSD ratings and focus on your own case.
There are 6 possible ratings that you can have with PTSD ranging from 0 to 100.
0 You have a mental condition that has been diagnosed by a professional, but the symptoms don’t interfere with your everyday life.
10 Mild impairment in social situations or at your job that decreases your efficiency during periods of stress.
30 Intermittent periods of work and social impairment while still being able to function normally in other routine situations.
50 Impairment of motivation and mood as well as memory impairments. Panic attacks occurring at least once per week, and difficulty maintaining relationships.
70 Deficiencies in most areas, suicidal ideation, illogical speech, neglect of personal appearance or hygiene, unable to adapt to stressful situations.
100 Total social impairment as well as impairment in thought processes, delusions, and hallucinations, inappropriate behavior, the danger of hurting yourself or others, minimal hygiene, not knowing the time or where you are at, loss of memory of close relatives, job, or even your own name.
These ratings apply across the broad spectrum of mental disorders covered within the Schedule of Ratings and are not all-inclusive for each rating.
So is an Automatic 50 PTSD Rating Possible?
There is no automatic rating for any disability.
The “Automatic 50 PTSD Rating” comes from some confusion about VA Policy 38 U.S.C. 1155.
A veteran will be granted a rating of 50% only if the veteran was discharged from service because their PTSD impacted their ability to perform their duties. This “automatic” rating only applies for 6 months following the discharge.
The veteran must be reevaluated at that time.
Can the VA Reduce My PTSD Rating?
The VA has the ability to reduce your VA ratings at your regularly scheduled assessment.
These usually happen after a period of five (5) years. During the assessment, the VA will determine if your condition has improved or worsened and reconfigure your disability rating.
With VA ratings, there are 4 rules for protected ratings:
The 5-year rule – If your rating has existed for 5 years, the VA cannot reduce the rating for that disability unless sustained improvement is shown.
The 10-year rule – If your rating has existed for 10 years, the VA cannot terminate the rating for that disability, and can only reduce their rating if fraud in the original claim has been proven.
The 20-year rule – If your rating has existed for 20 years, the VA cannot reduce the rating below your lowest rating for that disability since its inception. For example, if your PTSD rating was 50, and then moved up to 70, your rating for that disability can not be reduced below the 50 rating unless fraud can be proven in the original claim.
The 100% rule – If your disability rating is 100, the VA must prove that your condition has vastly improved and that you can perform normal work.
How Much Money Can I Get for a 50 Rating?
The VA Ratings for Disability for 2021 were released on December 1, 2020.
How much you are paid per month for a 50% rating depends on your marital status and number of dependents.
The 2021 rates for 50% are as follows:
Veteran alone (no dependents): $905.04
With spouse (no parents or children): $992.04
With spouse and 1 parent (no children): $1,062.04
With spouse and 2 parents (no children): $1,132.04
With 1 parent (no spouse or children): $975.04
With 2 parents (no spouse or children): $1,045.04
Whether you have a spouse, kids, and/or parents depending on you for support, this monthly payment will help you relieve some of the pressures of being a provider with a disability.
Secondary Conditions to PTSD
Even if you only rate a 50 for PTSD on the Schedule of Ratings, you can still get a higher score (and higher payments) if you have other primary, or secondary, conditions to your PTSD.
If a condition can be proven to be caused by a primary condition or can be shown to be further aggravated by the condition, your nexus letter may be able to link the two and help you raise your rating.
As such, PTSD can cause secondary conditions such as sleep apnea, GERD, migraines, hypertension, and more.
The doctor that writes your nexus letter should be able to help link these conditions together for you.
If you believe that you have a secondary condition, and keep getting denied, a skilled VA benefits attorney may be able to help.
Low Rating or Need Help Filing?
If you have been denied benefits or have good reason to believe that your rating should be higher and are having your request rejected, a veterans disability attorney from VanDerGinst Law can help you.
We can assist you in building your case for benefits or filing your appeal.
There is a time limit to file your appeal, so be sure to contact us as soon as possible to avoid problems.
We would be honored to help you.
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The information contained on this website is presented by VanDerGinst Law P.C. It is not intended nor should it be construed as professional legal advice. The information is general in nature about the Firm, the scope of services we offer, and our community outreach, it is not legal advice. Please contact us by phone, email, mail, or via this website for inquiries. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a personal injury attorney for a consultation regarding your situation. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the State of Iowa and/or the State of Illinois.