If you’re a military veteran who experienced a service-connected traumatic event that caused PTSD, then you may be eligible for disability compensation from the VA. The process for receiving a disability rating and compensation includes a number of steps, one of which is VA Form 21-0781. The complete steps to get a rating for PTSD are as follows:
- Provide a current, formal PTSD diagnosis from a qualified doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist.
- Submit a statement (VA Form 21-0781) detailing the service-connected traumatic event that caused your PTSD. Include corroborating evidence like a buddy letter, police reports, military records, news articles, etc.
- Link the current diagnosis to the service-connected stressor via a medical nexus opinion from a VA psychiatrist or psychologist.
Learn more about the VA’s disability rating protocol for PTSD, and FAQs on VA benefits for PTSD, in this blog.
Understanding VA Form 21-0781
In order to get a disability rating and subsequent benefits for PTSD, veterans must complete VA Form 21-0781. This is a statement in support of a claim for service connection for PTSD.
If your PTSD was the result of physical assault or military sexual trauma, you should use VA Form 21-0781a. For all other service-connected stressors, fill out VA Form 21-0781.
It’s vital to include these forms in your claim for PTSD-related benefits. They validate your stressor by providing the VA with important information, like where, when, and how your specific stressor occurred. The VA must verify the occurrence of the traumatic event that caused your PTSD through a search of federal records. Providing specific and quality information on your VA Form 21-0781 can help determine the VA’s success in identifying federal records that back up your claim.
Tips for Completing VA Form 21-0781
Completing this form means you will have to describe the stressor in great detail. It is often painful to relive traumatic memories like this, but it is crucial that your statement be as detailed as possible to improve the probability of your stressor being corroborated by evidence the VA finds in their records search. Here are a few things to remember when filling out your form:
You run the risk of having your claim denied if you are not accurate in your statement of events. If you report that the event happened on a certain date, and then later remember it differently, the VA could see you as an unreliable narrator. It is best to stick to identifying a three-month window in which you believe the stressor occurred unless you are absolutely positive about the date.
Be extremely detailed and descriptive when you are discussing your experience of living through the traumatic event that caused your PTSD. Focus on how it made you feel and how it affected your life before and after your service. Include how your behavior has changed as a result of the stressful event. All of this will go a long way toward validating your claim.
If reliving your trauma has a negative effect on your mental health and you find yourself in crisis, seek help immediately by contacting the VA Crisis Hotline. You can reach this hotline by dialing 988 and then pressing 1 to reach 24/7 caring, qualified responder support.