A Guide to Proving Service Connection for PTSD

Last Updated‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎

Written by

Table of Contents

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a significant issue in VA disability claims, stemming from a traumatic event, or “stressor,” experienced by veterans during service. 

Navigating the PTSD claim process involves understanding key regulations and overcoming unique challenges. 

This guide simplifies the essentials of building and filing your PTSD claim.

Essential Criteria for PTSD Claims

Successful PTSD claims hinge on three critical elements:

1. Current PTSD Diagnosis

  • Must be diagnosed by a qualified medical professional such as a psychiatrist or psychologist.
  • The diagnosis should adhere to the DSM-5 criteria, detailing specific symptoms and their impact on your daily life.

2. Evidence of an In-Service Stressor

Medical Nexus Linking PTSD to the Service Stressor

A professional medical opinion is required, stating it is “at least as likely as not” that your PTSD is connected to the in-service stressor.

Combat vs. Non-Combat Stressors

VA’s Duty to Assist

The VA is required to help claimants by obtaining necessary records and arranging medical examinations. 

This includes:

  • Service personnel and medical records.
  • Private medical records identified by the veteran as relevant to the claim.
  • Detailed accounts of stressor incidents, including dates and locations if possible.

Challenges in Proving Service Connection

  • PTSD Not Presumed Service-Related: Unlike some conditions, PTSD must be explicitly linked to service events.
  • Evidence Requirements: Claims must be supported by robust documentation or witness testimonies.
  • Complex PTSD Cases: Situations involving personal assaults or non-combat-related trauma may require additional evidence to verify the stressor.

If you need further guidance or are struggling with your claim, consider reaching out for professional assistance from veterans’ advocates like Hill & Ponton. 

Remember, managing your health and ensuring your rights are protected is crucial not only for your claim but for your overall well-being.

Did the VA Deny Your Disability Claim?

Let our team review your case today!

Get a Free Case Evaluation

Medical Nexus for PTSD

A crucial step in substantiating a PTSD claim is the medical nexus, or link, between the veteran’s current psychological condition and his or her service.

A medical nexus can include:

  • A detailed statement from a treating physician or psychologist is essential.
  • Vet Center records and counseling notes can serve as supporting evidence.

Obtaining the Right Compensation

  • Accurate Disability Rating: Ensure the PTSD disability rating accurately reflects the severity of the condition based on detailed medical evidence.
  • C&P Exam Preparation: Familiarize yourself with the rating criteria and prepare to discuss how symptoms affect daily functioning.
  • Consider a Second Opinion: If the initial C&P exam does not capture the full impact of PTSD, seeking an additional expert opinion can be beneficial.

Establishing service connection for PTSD requires a clear understanding of the criteria and a well-documented claim. 

While the process can be complex, accurately presenting your case can significantly impact the outcome of your claim and ensure you receive the benefits you deserve.

Cassandra Crosby, an Accredited Agent and claims advocate for Matthew Hill & Shelly Mark’s teams, reviewed the information provided in this post.

Written by

More Articles

News and advice about the VA, disability ratings and benefits.


Supporting Veterans Nationwide

  • Thank you to the firm of Hill & Ponton!! Brian Hill and his staff were able to get my 100% disability with the VA for my exposure to herbicides in Thailand. I have been fighting for this for many years and kept getting denied, after consulting with Hill & Ponton I decided to let them help me and it was the best decision I could have made. I found their professionalism to be outstanding.

    – Chip P.

    North Carolina

  • They got my disability rating after I was denied twice. They knew exactly how to format and submit the claim. I was rated 50%, Hill & Ponton weren’t done, they found other medical that related to exposure and submitted additional claims. I could not have received a disability rating without Hill & Ponton. If you need help, choose Hill & Ponton.

    – Thomas D.


  • The service provided by Hill and Ponton was exemplary. The lawyers and staff took care of every aspect with respect and understanding of the clients needs. In my case, as a new widow, they patiently walked me through each step. They kept me informed of the progress. I cannot say enough about the service they provided. Thank you Brian and staff.

    – Judith K Zitzewitz


  • As a Vet you may have filed a disability claim, and if you want to win your claim you need to call Hill and Ponton. I didn’t know what to do about my condition or status until I made the call. At H&P they not only took my case, but made me feel like family. They changed my life and they will change your life too. It’s true! In my opinion you can’t do better and you won’t regret it!

    – Paul K



About Hill & Ponton

Learn about the VA disability law firm, champions for veterans since 1986.