Evidence in PTSD Disability Claims
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition of persistent mental and emotional stress that can
develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, disaster, or war.
The symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, such as nightmares, depression, and
flashbacks, often make it difficult or impossible to function at work, home, or anywhere else.
The nature and extent of these symptoms, as well as current diagnosis, often determine the
degree of disability. But there is a preliminary question, namely the service-related connection
for PTSD. That is where VA Form 21-0781 comes in, as a statement supporting a claim for
service connection for PTSD.
Typically, filling out forms is a matter of inserting basic facts. That is usually the case with
standard forms, such as DMV and Tax forms. But when it comes to VA Form 21-0781, it is not
enough to list the correct information, presentation also matters. The information must be
presented in a compelling, yet not overwhelming, way. Our VA disability attorneys illuminate
these critical details, so our clients obtain maximum disability benefits.
Listing Stressors in Form 21-0781
Form 21-0781 is comprised of 3 sections: (1) Identification Information; (2) Stressful Incidents;
and (3) Signature.
While Section II requires the most attention, there are a few things to note regarding Section I.
When providing a cell phone number, ensure that the voicemail box is set up properly and
includes a recorded personal message, e.g., “You have reached John Doe, please leave a
message.” Also, keep in mind that the VA will most likely stop sending you any paper
documents if you provide an email address.
Next is section II: Stressful Incidents. Researchers are not sure whether a single, major stressor
causes PTSD, or if the cumulative effects of minor stressors cause this brain injury. So, it is best
to list as many stressful incidents as possible.
You can fill out most of the stressor information using data from your service record, even if
The most important portion of Section II is Box E, the incident description. When filling out this
portion, do not simply reference the combat report in your file, as one should not assume the
Claims Examiner will read the report. However, there is no need to go into detail either since
Box E has a 60 character limit. It’s good practice to use at least half of the available characters.
For example, “30-min. firefight with small arms ending in an airstrike” or “IED blast which
disabled two vehicles and caused several injuries.”
Box 14, Remarks, is mainly used to supplement casualty information in the incidents described.
Supplementing the Form
People in the military have a long history of altering action reports for propaganda purposes.
They either exaggerate an incident to make it worthy of a Hollywood screenplay or understate an
incident to minimize its dangerousness. Therefore, buddy statements are important supplements.
A buddy statement is a statement from a credible witness with firsthand knowledge about the
stressful incident. While buddy statements are not part of the official record, they provide
additional evidence describing the incident. The statements must accurately describe the
incident, straightforwardly providing facts without being dramatized.
To supplement Form 21-0781 with a buddy statement, provide a note in the Remarks section
notifying the reviewer that a buddy statement is attached. Be sure the attached buddy statement
references the appropriate question in the form.
Count on Experienced Attorneys
Proper presentation is the key to maximum PTSD benefits. For a free consultation with an
experienced Veterans disability attorney, contact the Cameron Firm, P.C. at 800-861-7262 or fill
out the contact box to your right. We are here to represent Veterans nationwide.
This article is for educational and marketing purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client