Post-traumatic stress disorder refers to the condition in which a person relives a traumatic event in their past. People with the condition suffer from fear and often relive the experience of the trauma in various ways, such as through dreams or with their memories. This condition is most common in veterans and other returning military personnel who witnessed the negative aspects of war. In the past, PTSD has also been called war neurosis, shell shock, and battle fatigue.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a form of anxiety disorder. The disorder develops after the person is subjected to the risk of injury or death to themselves or someone close to them. Unlike other anxiety disorders, PTSD can occur quite a considerable amount of time after the traumatic event has occurred.
Make a Claim With the Veterans Administration (VA)
To file a disability claim with the Veterans Administration (VA), you will need to submit a special application, VA Form 21-526, Veterans Application for Compensation and/or Pension, to the VA. The specific department to submit to is the Compensation and Pension Service within the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA). You can also file a claim online at the VA's website at www.ebenefits.va.gov.
You must also be seen by a psychiatrist a VA medical facility so that the psychiatrist can diagnose you with PTSD.
Qualifying for Disability Benefits Due to PTSD
New regulations passed in 2010 made it easier for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder to qualify for VA disability benefits. The following requirements must be met.
- The veteran has a PTSD diagnosis.
- The veteran's symptoms are related to a traumatic event (the "stressor").
- A VA psychiatrist or psychologist confirms that the triggering stressor was enough to cause PTSD.
- The stressor is related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity.
- The stressor is one that is likely to have happened in the locations and circumstances of the veteran’s service (and there is no evidence to contrary).
Because you no longer have to provide evidence that the traumatic event occurred, you will have an easier -- and faster -- time getting VA benefits.
Getting a Disability Rating for PTSD
In assigning you a percentage of disability, the VBA will consider how severe your PTSD symptoms are, how frequently they occur, the length of your remissions (periods of improvement), and how much your ability to work and function socially is impaired. For example, a veteran with mild or passing symptoms of PTSD that are well controlled with medication might receive a 10% disability rating. For information on PTSD from the VA, visit http://www.ptsd.va.gov/.
You may also be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if you are unable to work. For more information, see our article on Social Security disability benefits for PTSD.