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Demystifying the VA: How to file a VA claim for PTSD

If you have been diagnosed with or believe you have PTSD from a traumatic event you experienced during service, you may be eligible for VA disability compensation. Filing a claim for PTSD is handled much like any other claim.

how to file a claim for ptsd with theVA

The VA requires that VA form 21-526ez be completed for all disability claims. When filing a claim for PTSD, the VA also requires an additional form. This is VA form 21-0781, Statement in support of claim for service connection for PTSD, or 21-0781a Statement in support of claim for service connection for PTSD secondary to personal assault. The first form is often used for combat PTSD and the second most often for military sexual trauma (MST). The form is used to explain and verify the traumatic event that triggered your PTSD.

What does VA consider to be a traumatic event?

The VA considers the following to be traumatic events.

· You suffered a serious injury, personal or sexual trauma, or sexual violation.

· Someone or something threatened you with injury, sexual assault or death.

How do I prove I have PTSD for the VA?

When filing a claim with the VA for PTSD, there are specific things the VA is looking for.

A current PTSD diagnosis

You must be able to show that you currently suffer from PTSD by providing a diagnosis from a qualified medical professional. Veterans often ask if this diagnosis needs to come from the VA directly, and it does not. If you have been diagnosed by a private psychologist or psychiatrist that is a valid diagnosis. However, when a veteran files a disability claim the VA usually requires them to attend a compensation and pension examination; at which point a VA provider will also provide diagnosis.

An in-service stressor event

An in-service stressor event may be things such as combat, witnessing the death of another person, or sexual trauma.

When completing the VA form noted above you will be asked to provide dates, locations and a description of the stressor event.

A nexus linking the above

A nexus is basically a link. The VA is looking for proof that what you are currently suffering from is a direct result of exposure during service. This nexus may be found in your DD214, service records, or medical records.

Is it hard to get VA disability for PTSD?

If a veteran has all three of the items noted above, they are likely to be service connected for PTSD. The problem for some veterans is that they cannot prove service connection, which for PTSD is proven through the stressor event.

When service connection is difficult to prove, a veteran may need to look for people who can corroborate their story. This corroboration can be provided through a buddy/lay statement.

In the case of military sexual trauma the VA will also look for markers to show a change in behavior while in service. This is important because many veterans do not report MST when it happens.

The truth is that the process of filing a VA disability claim can be mentally taxing. This is when a professional may be helpful to walk through the claims process with you. In addition, seeking mental health treatment is always recommended to improve your quality of life and help you manage your mental health throughout the process.


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This information is made available for educational purposes only. This information is not a substitute for legal or medical advice. United Veteran Benefits Agency makes no guarantee of the outcome on VA rating decisions.


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