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How to Access Benefits for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Krystofer Belknap

If you go through a traumatic event, you are likely to recover. In some cases you may experience posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Treatment can help you cope with and overcome your symptoms.

If, however, you are disabled by PTSD because of your service, you are eligible for disability benefits. On top of the care you get through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), you can get financial compensation for your PTSD. This can offset financial strain and help you focus on overcoming your symptoms.

Fortunately, the VA has made qualifying and applying for PTSD benefits relatively easy. All you need is for a VA health care provider to confirm that you had an experience that supports a PTSD diagnosis and that your symptoms are related to that experience.

You are eligible for PTSD benefits if you meet the following three criteria:

  • You had a traumatic event or stressor during your service
  • You've been diagnosed with PTSD
  • You can't maintain relationships or employment because of PTSD symptoms

You don’t have to actually experience a serious injury, or trauma to qualify. The threat of injury, sexual assault or death is enough if it results in PTSD. Everyone experiences PTSD differently. Common symptoms include trouble sleeping, nightmares, flashbacks, feelings of isolation, self-blame and irritability. This can affect your job and home life.

The VA’s PTSD disability benefits criteria is especially helpful for veterans:

  • Whose military records have been damaged or destroyed
  • Who served in combat long ago and can’t recall details like specific dates of action
  • Who have experienced combat, but have no official record of it

If you believe your PTSD is disabling but have hesitated to apply for PTSD disability benefits because you thought the process would be difficult, assistance is available. You can apply online or with the help of a veteran service organization representative. They can help you get the care and disability benefits you need to recover.

Access Treatment Today

If you or someone you know is coping with PTSD, get help. PTSD is a common reaction to uncommon circumstances. A health care professional can develop a treatment plan to get you back to peak performance.

There are many ways you can get care including:

  • Speak with any health care professional
  • Call with or visit a VA Medical Center
  • Visit a Vet Center. They can support you in readjusting to civilian life, but also help you find medical support for any psychological health concerns you have.
  • If you are TRICARE eligible, you can also visit a military hospital or clinic, or contact the Nurse Advice Line at 800-874-2273, and press 1.

In an emergency, contact the Veterans Crisis Line. Call 800-273-8255 and press 1, or text 838255.

During difficult times you can also contact the Psychological Health Resource Center 24/7 to confidentially speak with a trained health resource consultant. Call 866-966-1020 or use the Real Warriors Live Chat. Or, visit our “Seek Help, Find Care” page to see a list of key psychological health resources.

Additional Resources:

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