PTSD Chalkboard in the Shape of a Head

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most common service-connected conditions eligible for VA disability benefits. Ratings are generally based on the severity of symptoms that a Veteran experiences, but an automatic 50% disability rating is possible in some cases.

How to Receive an Automatic 50% Disability Rating

The rating scale for PTSD ranges from 0% to 100%, with ratings given in 10% increments. The VA uses the General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders under 38 CFR § 4.130 to evaluate a Veteran’s condition and assign the appropriate disability rating.   

It is a common myth that all Veterans receive an automatic 50% rating for PTSD. The VA regulation 38 CFR § 4.129 allows for an automatic 50% rating only if a Veteran develops PTSD while on activity duty and the condition is severe enough to result in their discharge.

A 50% rating indicates substantial occupational and social impairment. Veterans with this rating often have:

  • Panic attacks more than once per week
  • Memory impairment and trouble understanding complex commands
  • Reduced reliability and productivity at work
  • Impaired judgment
  • Mood disturbances
  • Trouble maintaining effective work and social relationships

The automatic 50% rating allows the newly disabled Veteran to access benefits quickly, but it is only valid for six months. At this point, the VA will reassess the Veteran’s condition. Depending upon how effective treatment has been, their rating may increase, decrease, or stay the same. The reevaluation will consider the frequency, severity, and duration of the psychiatric symptoms associated with the PTSD diagnosis, as well as how effectively a Veteran can function during periods of remission.

Roughly one in four Veterans have a 50% rating for PTSD, although this includes many who did not qualify for an automatic rating due to their discharge from active duty.

Get the Help You Need to Access the Benefits You Deserve

As you can see, the automatic 50% rating for PTSD applies only in very limited cases and doesn’t offer permanent benefits. The vast majority of Veterans will need to accurately document their symptoms and service-connected stressors to win their disability claim.

Although the process of receiving disability benefits is notoriously complex, you don’t have to go through it alone. Our attorneys help Veterans who’ve honorably served their country access the disability benefits they need and deserve. Contact the office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

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