How The VA Rates PTSD


How The VA Rates PTSD

What is PTSD and how the VA rates PTSD.  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a common, though not always visible, disability that can be related to military service. Almost everyone who experiences a highly stressful event will have responses to it such as nervousness, trouble sleeping, fear, and many other possible symptoms.

If those responses do not go away in a reasonable amount of time, the victim may have PTSD. Exposure to extreme stress alters the balance between the parts of the brain that control emotional responses and logical responses. Thus, PTSD victims can lose their ability to react logically to events around them, instead exhibiting emotional reactions.

Though PTSD victims can exhibit outward symptoms, it is still a difficult condition to diagnose and evaluate. Because it is a psychological disorder, it is difficult for victims to report their symptoms fully or accurately. Therefore, victims may unwittingly conceal symptoms of PTSD simply because they are not aware of the significance of the symptoms.


Highly stressful events which can occur during military service include combat, sexual or physical assault, learning of the violent or accidental death or injury of a loved one, child sexual or physical abuse, serious accidents such as motor vehicle accidents, natural disasters, and terrorist attacks. Victims may not experience these events firsthand. For example, witnessing an injury or serving as a first responder in the aftermath of a disaster can cause PTSD.

Four types of PTSD symptoms include reliving the event, avoiding things that serve as reminders of the event, having more negative thoughts and feelings than before the event, and feeling on edge.

The VA offers PTSD screenings to help diagnose veterans with PTSD or rule it out. If a veteran is diagnosed with PTSD, the VA determines whether the cause of PTSD is related to the veterans military service or not. If the condition is connected to service, and the condition impacts the veteran’s daily life, the VA issues the veteran a “rating.” Ratings range from 10-100% and depend on the extent to which the veteran’s life is impacted by his or her condition.

For PTSD, the VA recognizes ratings at 100, 70, 50, 30, and 10%.


A 100% rating means a veteran is totally disabled by PTSD alone. Symptoms are so bad that the veteran cannot function at work, school, home, or anyplace else. Common symptoms include:

  • Hypervigilance,
  • Depression,
  • Anger,
  • Flashbacks, and
  • Nightmares

During a medical examination for rating purposes, the examiner looks for certain signs such as hallucinations, disorientation, and severe thought impairment which means the veteran is a danger to himself/herself or others. If the veteran lives with a family member who provides near-constant supervision, the case for a total rating is stronger.


If a veteran with PTSD is unable to maintain relationships or hold a job, a 70% rating may be appropriate. Other symptoms include:

  • Thoughts of suicide,
  • Obsessively creating and clinging to rituals,
  • Constant, or near constant, depression or panic attacks,
  • Uncontrolled emotional outbursts, mostly irrational anger,
  • Inability to manage stressful situations, and
  • Neglect of personal hygiene.

With a 70% disability rating and an inability to secure and keep gainful employment, a veteran can often successfully obtain a Total Disability rating based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU).


Indicators of a 50% disability include:

  • Lethargic or flat outlook on life,
  • Slurred words or another speech impairment,
  • Cognitive impairment akin to brain fog,
  • Periodic (e.g., weekly) panic attacks, and
  • Trouble maintaining personal or professional relationships.

VA states a 50% disability is almost indistinguishable from a 30% disability, which is the most common PTSD disability rating. A disability attorney may order an independent medical examination in such situations.


This is a common rating for PTSD. At 30%, a victim can manage daily life but may have more “bad days” than people without PTSD. It may still impact social and professional performance to some extent.


At this level, symptoms are either mild, sporadic, or controlled with medication or treatment.

 Rely on Dedicated Attorneys

It is extremely difficult to live with PTSD, so if you think you may be entitled to compensation from the VA for this condition, make sure you have an experienced veterans disability attorney on your side. For a free consultation, contact the Cameron Firm, P.C. at 800-861-7262 or fill out the contact box on our website. We are proud to represent Veterans nationwide.

This article is for educational and marketing purposes only. Therefore, it does not create an attorney-client relationship.