Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can affect Veterans who have undergone or witnessed various stressful events while in service. It can arise from combat experiences, as well as non-combat situations. Combat Veterans often have a more straightforward process for getting PTSD-related benefits due to the available evidence.
However, non-combat Veterans must navigate a higher burden of proof, requiring a collection of credible evidence to establish their service connection. We will explore the stressors that can qualify non-combat and combat Veterans for VA disability benefits.
For combat Veterans, receiving VA disability benefits for PTSD is fairly straightforward. His or her experiences are typically backed by sufficient evidence, such as service records, citations, medals, and combat action reports. Often, a Veteran’s lay statement is considered credible evidence to establish a service connection. Combat-related PTSD stressors can include: enemy ambushes, IED events, flight deck plane crashes, or witnessing the death of a fellow servicemember.
Non-combat Veterans seeking benefits for PTSD face additional challenges. While the condition must still be service-connected (meaning it occurred during their military service), the burden of proof is typically higher. Non-combat-related stressors can include traffic collisions, training accidents, military sexual trauma, survivor’s guilt, fear of hostile military encounters, and ongoing exposure to death and violence. However, there may be many more situations that qualify.
To prove a service connection for non-combat-related PTSD, Veterans must provide credible evidence that the traumatic event occurred during his or her military service. This evidence can include a current diagnosis of PTSD, a detailed statement from the Veteran describing the service-connected stressor, and the alignment of this description with their service records.
It is crucial to have a medical opinion from a psychiatrist or psychologist attesting that the stressor is sufficient to cause PTSD. VA Form 21-0781, the “Statement in Support of Claim for Service Connection for PTSD,” should be completed with details regarding the stressor and any supporting evidence, such as newspaper articles, pictures, obituaries, or public records. A lay statement or buddy statement from fellow Veterans who witnessed the non-combat stressor can significantly strengthen the case for benefits.
The VA rates PTSD on a scale of 0-100, which determines the severity of the condition and its impact on the Veteran’s daily functioning. The assigned disability rating can be given in intervals of 10, with higher ratings indicating more significant impairment. The evaluation process considers factors such as the frequency and intensity of symptoms, functional limitations, and the need for continuous treatment. The stressors that someone has can influence this rating.
Qualification for VA disability benefits for PTSD, whether combat-related or non-combat-related, is vital to supporting Veterans who have endured significant psychological stress. By understanding the specific stressors that can trigger PTSD and following the necessary steps to provide supporting evidence, you can increase your chance of receiving the support and benefits you deserve.
Our experienced attorneys at Fight4Vets are here to help you receive the compensation you deserve for your service. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can assist you in getting benefits for your service-connected psychological condition.