Criteria for 50 PTSD Rating Explained

Category: Veterans Disability Law

Article by Daniel J. Tuley

Criteria for 50 PTSD Rating Explained

Veterans affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may have heard of a specific VA policy that allows them to receive an automatic rating of 50% for their condition. While such policy does exist, the process is not technically “automatic,” because the veteran is still required to meet certain criteria.

What Is an Automatic 50 PTSD Rating?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) assigns a percentage value to disabled veterans that determines the amount of monetary compensation they will receive for their condition. VA ratings range from 0-100% using only increments of 10 (0, 10, 20…). Typically, a PTSD rating is given based on the severity of an individual’s disability and the results from their compensation and pension (C&P) exam. In the case of the automatic 50 PTSD rating, a veteran does not have to go through the extra steps.

Policy 38 CFR 4.129 was created by the VA to provide temporary relief to individuals who are released from military duty as a direct result of a service-connected mental disorder. The policy states the following:

“When a mental disorder that develops in service as a result of a highly stressful event is severe enough to bring about the veteran’s release from active military service, the rating agency shall assign an evaluation of not less than 50% and schedule an examination within the six-month period following the veteran’s discharge to determine whether a change in evaluation is warranted” (Authority: 38 U.S.C. 1155).

Many veterans misinterpret this policy, thinking the VA PTSD rating 50% is their official determination.

Who Receives an Automatic 50 PTSD Rating?

To qualify for the automatic 50% PTSD rating a veteran must be discharged from active service as a result of their PTSD. The veteran must be experiencing enough symptoms that they cannot carry out their military duties, AND those symptoms must have been caused or worsened by a stressor or event during active service.

The 50 PTSD rating will only last until the scheduled evaluation, which takes place no longer than six months after discharge. At this time a VA-approved mental health professional will assess the severity of a veteran’s PTSD and likely determine a new rating. While an individual can still receive a 50% rating for PTSD, it’s certainly not automatic. Without the help of policy 38 CFR 4.129, the 50 PTSD rating criteria has many more requirements.

What Is the VA PTSD Rating Criteria?

Over 800,000 veterans receive VA compensation for some level of PTSD symptoms. The specific benefits are determined according to 38 CFR 4.126, a policy for evaluating disability from mental disorders. This policy requires the VA rating official to consider two rules when assigning a value:

  • The rating agency must consider the frequency, duration, and severity of psychiatric symptoms, length of remissions, and veteran’s capacity for adjustment during remission. The rating agency is required to assign an evaluation primarily based on evidence of an individual’s social and occupational impairment as opposed to the examiner’s snapshot assessment.
  • The rating agency will consider aspects of social impairment, but the evaluation may not be based solely on social impairment. Occupational impairment is the primary concern of the VA.

From these rules, the VA provides a rating based on the symptoms and severity of impairment. The VA PTSD rating criteria are as follows:

  • 0% — A veteran has a PTSD diagnosis, but the symptoms do not impact function or require medication
  • 10% — Veteran experiences mild PTSD symptoms that can cause problems in daily life during periods of extreme stress; symptoms can be controlled by medication
  • 30% — Veteran displays symptoms like depression, anxiety, memory loss, or panic attacks that cause impairment in work or social situations and decrease productivity; roughly 23.7 of PTSD claim recipients have a 30 PTSD rating
  • 50% — Veteran experiences a significant decrease in productivity and struggle to maintain relationships as a result of more severe PTSD symptoms; roughly 25.9% of PTSD claim recipients have a 50 PTSD rating
  • 70% — Veteran has deficiencies in most professional and social areas, may experience suicidal ideations, depression, or obsessive thoughts; roughly 28.0% of PTSD claim recipients have a 70 PTSD rating
  • 100% — The veteran cannot function in work or social situations due to their symptoms; roughly 13.1% of PTSD claim recipients have a 100 PTSD rating

Before receiving a rating, it is important for a veteran to confirm whether or not they qualify for PTSD benefits.

VA PTSD Disability Benefits Eligibility

Although PTSD is not considered a presumptive condition, meaning it’s not assumed to be caused directly by military service, it is still regarded as one of the easier disabilities to earn a VA claim for. Each of these criteria must be met for an individual to qualify for PTSD VA disability benefits:

  • A medical professional who is qualified to make a PTSD diagnosis must diagnose the veteran with PTSD
  • The PTSD stressor or traumatic event associated with the development or worsening of the condition must have occurred during the veteran’s military service
  • The veteran must be able to prove the stressor is linked to the current diagnosis with a medical nexus or the results of a C&P exam
  • The veteran’s PTSD symptoms must make it more difficult to function than it was before the traumatic event

If an individual does qualify, the above rating system mixed with written statements from people in the veteran’s life and the results of a VA-administered C&P exam will help the VA determine a final rating for disability benefits.

Filing a PTSD Disability Claim

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that causes individuals who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event to experience intense symptoms after the event as a direct result of it. The individual may experience flashbacks or dreams in which they continue to experience the event. The disorder’s severity is characterized by symptoms and the effects they have on daily functioning.

Submitting a PTSD disability claim to the VA involves gathering relevant information and attending examinations. However, if an individual’s ability to work and earn a living wage is affected by the presence of PTSD, filing a claim could result in monetary compensation to ease financial stress. Hiring a VA disability lawyer is one way individual’s increase their chances of receiving the highest possible disability rating for their specific symptoms.

2024 VA Compensation Rates

The VA disability rating a veteran is assigned determines how much money they receive to compensate their condition. The VA continuously updates their monthly rates, and the latest numbers are as follows:

  • 10% — $171.23
  • 20% — $338.49
  • 30% — $524.31
  • 40% — $755.28
  • 50% — $1,075.16
  • 60% — $1,361.88
  • 70% — $1,716.28
  • 80% — $1,995.01
  • 90% — $2,241.91
  • 100% (total unemployability) — $3,737.85

These are the rates for a lone veteran with no dependents, veterans who live with other people or have dependents may be subject to different levels of compensation.

Tuley Law Office

To receive the compensation you deserve, it may be beneficial to seek legal assistance. Hiring a VA disability lawyer who is familiar with the claim process can significantly increase the chances of receiving a favorable decision on your PTSD claim.

Preparing evidence to prove service connection and accurately represent the severity of PTSD symptoms can be difficult without adequate guidance. If you or someone you know received a disability during active military time, contact Tuley Law Office to schedule a consultation today.

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