Many Veterans throughout the United States use firearms for recreation, protection, and/or employment. Often, those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are reluctant to seek treatment and apply for VA disability benefits because they fear doing so will cause them to lose their right to own a gun.
VA Disability Ratings and Gun Ownership
Gun ownership for people with PTSD is a complicated topic. As with other types of mental health disorders, there are varying levels of PTSD. Someone with mild symptoms of PTSD who is getting regular treatment may be able to hold a job, maintain relationships, and otherwise function with minimal impairment. On the opposite end of the spectrum, severe PTSD symptoms can cause hallucinations, delusions, and aggressive or socially inappropriate behavior that makes normal activities impossible and causes a person to be a real threat to themselves or others.
VA disability ratings for PTSD can be 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%. A Veteran’s gun ownership rights would not be restricted unless they’ve received a 100% disability rating. This rating is the most difficult to achieve and requires total impairment with a complete inability to manage a normal routine. (A 100% rating is more common when a Veteran has multiple service-connected disabilities, but only ratings due to mental health affect gun rights.)
When a Veteran is 100% disabled due to PTSD alone, they are typically appointed a fiduciary to manage their benefits. When this happens, the VA must report the individual to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System run by the FBI, and they will no longer be able to purchase firearms.
If desired, however, Veterans can appeal the decision to appoint a fiduciary by providing evidence that they are able to manage their benefits without assistance. A successful appeal would allow the Veteran to maintain benefits and keep their right to own a gun.
Contact Us Today
The VA does not automatically report Veterans who apply for disability benefits based on a mental health diagnosis, so privacy concerns shouldn’t keep you from accessing needed benefits you’ve earned in service of your country. Our legal team can explain your options if you are concerned about the possibility of losing your right to own firearms due to a PTSD diagnosis and help you determine the best way to proceed. Contact the office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.