Hill & Ponton, P.A.

Video Blog – Getting a Proper Rating for PTSD

Matthew Hill: Hello. This is Matthew Hill here with Carol Ponton for the Hill & Ponton Veterans’ Video Blog. Today we want to talk to you about PTSD, proper ratings for PTSD to include unemployability. We get a lot of vets asking us about this as far as how they get the highest rating.
One of the things with the mental health diagnostic code, what they use to rate PTSD and other mental health problems, is that it’s really hard to get 100%, that they very rarely give 100%. The max rating you typically see is 70%. We’ll start there and go down, but what do you see? What does a veteran need to get unemployability from them?
Carol Ponton: Well, first of all, you have to realize there is the regional office and the rules that they follow, and then there’s the Board of Ethics Appeals above them in the court, which is the law, and that’s what we think the regional office should be following, and that’s also when we go to the Board of Ethics Appeals or up, that’s what they follow.
Matthew Hill: She’s talking about the statutes that are passed by Congress, but then also the case law passed by the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Once you get to the BVA, the Board of Veterans Appeals, you’re dealing with a judge, somebody who is trained in the law, somebody who listens to the law. At the regional offices, they work off of a manual, which in our opinion, doesn’t quite follow how the law should be.
Carol Ponton: For instance, the law says that if you have a 70% rating for PTSD and they know you’re not working, they should automatically consider you for unemployability. The regional office doesn’t do that. If you haven’t filed a claim, if you haven’t asked them to do that, they’re not going to do it. So a lot of people have been sitting there with 70, 80%, 90% rating for years, because they didn’t file the claim.
Matthew Hill: And yet they can’t work …
Carol Ponton: And yet they can’t work.
Matthew Hill: … due to that service-connected experience.
Carol Ponton: … and the VA knows it. It’s really important that if you feel you can’t work, whether you have a 50% or a 70% or a 30%, file an unemployability claim. That’s the form, VA 21-8940. All it asks is why you can’t work, name and address, and where you worked and how long ago that was.
Matthew Hill: Previously, right. Just to put this in perspective, we’re talking about the difference between, I think, $1,300 for 70% and just about $3,000 for 100%.
Carol Ponton: It’s significant.
Matthew Hill: Yeah. 70% rating does not equal 70% of 100% compensation, if that makes more sense.
Carol Ponton: Exactly.
Matthew Hill: It’s really important to file that form. It’s also important when you are at 70% to let the VA know the symptoms that would affect your ability to work. What I mean by that, with PTSD in particular, you find that individuals, they do not like being around other people. They get angry easily, and the biggest one I see is they can’t put up with bosses who are idiots. They can’t just fall in line and keep their mouth shut when they’re hearing something they think is ridiculous. Maybe they can for a day, for a week, or a month, but pretty soon, they just let that person have it, let them know what they really think. That doesn’t do too well when you’re trying to stay in the workforce.
Carol Ponton: Right.
Matthew Hill: Again, we’d say file that claim for unemployability if that’s what’s keeping you working. Let them know what parts or how the PTSD in particular is affecting you at work, meaning how is it interfering with your ability to work with others or just to do your job.
Carol Ponton: Maybe people who worked with you will do a letter for you and say, “This person is a really nice person, but I found that they didn’t trust other people. They didn’t want to be around them, and they became angry when other people would make mistakes. They wouldn’t put up with the boss when that boss seemed to be asking them to do something stupid.” It can really help you to have letters … And if your boss … Maybe your boss didn’t really want to let you go, but they had to. If they’ll do letters for you, put those in the file. That can help you enormously.
Matthew Hill: Well, thank you so much for tuning in to the Hill & Ponton video blog, and we hope to see you again soon on this space.