How Do I Receive a 50% PTSD Rating?
VA rates PTSD under 38 CFR § 4.130, Diagnostic Code 9411. The criteria are based off the level of social and occupational impairment a veteran experiences, and the severity of symptoms VA uses to characterize that impairment. The criterion for a 50% PTSD rating under 38 CFR § 4.130, Diagnostic Code 9411, is as follows:
- 50% – “Occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity due to such symptoms as: flattened affect; circumstantial, circumlocutory, or stereotyped speech; panic attacks more than once a week; difficulty in understanding complex commands; impairment of short- and long-term memory (e.g. retention of only highly learned material, forgetting to complete tasks); impaired judgment; impaired abstract thinking; disturbances of motivation and mood; difficulty in establishing and maintaining effective wok and social relationships”.
What Does the 50% PTSD Rating Criterion Mean?
The 50% PTSD rating criterion involves an escalation in the frequency, duration, and severity of PTSD symptoms. Furthermore, there are several additional symptoms included in this criterion that were not included in the lower ratings. If you receive a 50% PTSD rating, it is likely that you are beginning to display more noticeable cognitive deficits such as difficulty following instructions or making decisions that depart from past behavior. Additionally, some of the mood-associated symptomology including depression and anxiety may begin to manifest in physiological ways, such as a flattened affect. In other words, due to feelings of depression, you might speak in a monotonous tone and lack facial expressions. Overall, the level of occupational and social impairment also increases as part of the 50% PTSD rating. Here, the symptoms mentioned above cause a decrease in your ability to efficiently complete work-related tasks.
What If My Symptoms Are Consistent with More Than One Rating?
Since PTSD is a complex condition and many of the symptoms within the rating criteria overlap, you may not fall completely into one percentage category. For example, you may experience mild memory loss in addition to impaired judgment and flattened affect. Here you have symptoms consistent with both a 30% PTSD rating and a 50% PTSD rating. Since it is not possible to split the difference between the two ratings, VA must choose one to award. In doing so, VA should award the higher rating based on 38 CFR § 4.7. Specifically, when there is a question as to which of two evaluations should be applied, the higher evaluation will be assigned if the disability more clearly meets the criteria required for that rating.