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Veterans Law

70% Disability Rating for PTSD

October 29, 2018
Man with PTSD

A 70% PTSD rating is one step below the highest schedular rating for the condition. Many veterans receive a 70% PTSD rating because their symptoms cause significant levels of impairment both occupationally and socially. This evaluation is typically assigned to veterans with PTSD symptoms that are one step below totally disabling. The criterion for a 70% PTSD rating is as follows:

  • 70% – “Occupational and social impairment, with deficiencies in most areas, such as work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood, due to such symptoms as: suicidal ideation; obsessional rituals which interfere with routine activities; speech intermittently illogical, obscure, or irrelevant; near-continuous panic or depression affecting the ability to function independently, appropriately and effectively; impaired impulse control (such as unprovoked irritability with periods of violence); spatial disorientation; neglect of personal appearance and hygiene; difficulty in adapting to stressful circumstances (including work or a worklike setting); inability to establish and maintain effective relationships.”

The 70% disability rating criterion for PTSD is the most inclusive insofar as it represents a wide array of symptoms. Furthermore, it also reflects a progression of the symptoms included in the lower disability ratings. Namely, a veteran who receives a 70% PTSD rating suffers from all of the symptoms included in the 50% rating, but at a higher frequency, severity, and duration. Here, the veteran is almost always in a state of panic or depression that affects his or her ability to interact with others. The veteran may also have trouble controlling his or her emotions in a way that leads to violent outbursts or conflict with others. The level of occupational and social impairment may be evidenced by the veteran’s inability to hold down a job or complete classes for school. Additionally, a veteran may engage in obsessional rituals such as checking the locks on his or her doors multiple times throughout the course of a day as a result of being hypervigilant.

Do I Need to Have All of These Symptoms to Receive a 70% PTSD Rating?

As mentioned above, the General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders includes a large number of symptoms for a 70% disability rating. Importantly, a veteran does not need to endorse all of these symptoms in order to qualify for the 70% rating. For example, a veteran who only experiences suicidal ideation and near-continuous panic or depression still falls under that rating criterion according to VA law. Specifically, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims case, Mauerhan v. Principi, established that the symptoms listed in Diagnostic Code 9411 (PTSD) are not intended to constitute an exhaustive list, but rather serve as examples of the type and degree of the symptoms, or their effects, that would justify a particular rating. Therefore, a veteran can have any number of the symptoms listed in the rating criteria and still meet that level of evaluation.

Can I Appeal My PTSD Rating?

If you believe VA assigned a PTSD disability rating that is lower than you deserve, you have the right to appeal for a higher rating. In this case, you will have to submit evidence to VA demonstrating that your symptoms have worsened and as a result, more closely approximate the next highest disability rating.

Importantly, if your PTSD significantly impairs your ability to work, you may be eligible for a total disability rating based on individual unemployability (TDIU) – a VA benefit that allows veterans to receive compensation at the 100 percent rate if their service-connected condition(s) prevent them from securing and maintaining substantially gainful employment.  

There are two ways veterans can qualify for TDIU based on their PTSD under VA’s regulation 38 CFR § 4.16: schedular and extraschedular.  In order to be eligible for schedular TDIU:

  • Your PTSD must be rated at 60 percent or higher on its own; or
  • You must have a combined rating of 70 percent or higher when your PTSD is taken together with other service-connected conditions and at least one of those conditions is rated at 40 percent or higher on its own

If you do not meet the eligibility requirements listed above, but you are unemployable due to your PTSD, you may qualify for TDIU on an extraschedular basis.  In both cases, you must show that your PTSD (along with your other service-connected conditions, if applicable) contribute to your inability to work.

Call Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD For a Free Case Evaluation

If you are suffering from PTSD as a result of your military service, Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD may be able to help you receive the VA disability benefits that you deserve.  To speak with a member of our staff about a free case evaluation, please call 401-237-6412.

 

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