Copyright © 1998 All Rights Reserved



The following information has been compiled over the past seventeen years by Leslie Lintecum as she took Sarge through his nine year battle with the VA to achieve his "100% Total and Permanent" status, and from Sarge's first hand experiences with the VA during this time. Please feel free to print out this guide for future reference.

STEP #1: You must notify the VA, in writing, that you are applying for disability benefits (or appealing a previous decision). This starts the clock running on the process and this date will be how far back they will pay you to when you win your claim. Do this first, and the sooner the better. You will receive a conformation letter to let you know that they have started your claim. Save this and all letters that you receive from the VA as well as copies of all letters that you send to them.

WHAT YOU NEED FOR STEP #1: After you have notified the VA to start your claim you need to gather evidence of your disability. Anyone that knew you before and after your service duty can write a letter explaining how you differ now from how you were before your service. Ask family members and anyone else that knew you both before and after your service. These letters are important, get as many as you can but one or two will do. Write one yourself with details of specific battles or events that were traumatic during your service. It will be painful but go into detail. You may need to work on this letter a little at a time. Don't let it upset you too much, put it aside for awhile but keep coming back until it is finished.

Document your claim with government records to show traumatic battles etc.. To get any pertinent documents from the government about your military service use this hyperlink:


The length of time that it takes for each step, once the ball is in the VA's court, may tend to be discouraging. However, that time is really working for you. Your back pay check will be bigger the longer it takes and we all know that receiving a lump sum gives you an opportunity to make the money work for you, whereas the same amount trickled in over a long period of time gets spent as it comes in.

STEP #2: Your rating exam will be scheduled within 30-60 days after your claim is initiated, so here are some things that you need to know. Be truthful, but don't forget that you are there to tell about your problems so do just that. Don't dress up, the doctor needs to see you as you are on your average day. If you normally veg out for days at a time at home without grooming but you show up at the rating exam well groomed and in a suit and tie you are deceiving the doctor, he or she needs to see you as you are on an average day.

WHAT YOU NEED FOR STEP #2: You need to convey to the doctor your problems, both verbally and visually.


A description of PTSD symptoms that your rating doctor will be looking for follows:

Diagnostic Criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

A. Existence of a recognizable stressor that would evoke significant symptoms of distress in almost everyone

B. Re-experiencing of the trauma as evidenced by at least one of the following:

(1) recurrent and intrusive recollections of the event

(2) recurrent dreams of the event

(3) sudden acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were reoccurring, because of an association with an environmental or additional stimulus

C. Numbing of responsiveness to or reduced involvement with the external world, beginning some time after the trauma, as shown by at least one of the following:

(1) markedly diminished interest in one or more significant activities

(2) feeling of detachment or estrangement from others

(3) constricted affect

D. At least two of the following symptoms that were not present before the trauma:

(1) hyper alertness or exaggerated startle response

(2) sleep disturbance

(3) guilt about surviving when others have not, or about behavior required for survival

(4) memory impairment or trouble concentrating

(5) avoidance of activities that arouse recollection of the traumatic event

(6) intensification of symptoms by exposure to events that symbolize or resemble the traumatic event.

Subtypes: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Acute

A. onset of symptoms within six months of trauma

B. duration of symptoms less than six months Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Chronic or Delayed Either of the following, or both:

(1) duration of symptoms six months or more (chronic)

(2) onset of symptoms at least six months after the trauma (delayed)


New Scams, Tricks and Lies used by the VA to Deny Veterans PTSD Benefits

Studies are being done and suggestions are being considered by the VA on ways to avoid the huge cost
of helping veterans who have PTSD. Example: Denying benefits for PTSD by claiming that the veteran has
a personality disorder, not PTSD. Also, we have heard of a PTSD program that claims to cure the veteran in
six weeks at which time the veteran's disability is reduced to zero percent. The VA is looking for a way to put a
limit on PTSD benefits by disgracing combat vets -- the plan is to call them "malingerers." This all means that a
large chunk of the VA budget is being used not to help veterans, but to deny or reduce their benefits.

If you have experienced any "New Scams, Tricks and Lies used by the VA to Deny Veterans PTSD Benefits"
Please tell us by email: Sarge or Leslie


The GAF Score is no longer the defining factor in determining your percentage of disability.
Many other factors are also being used to to determine your percentage.

A Personal Note from Sarge:
"I think that the GAF Scores were a good way for the veteran to check the work of the VA Rating Boards.
If the percentage of disability did not match the GAF Score, it informed the veteran that the VA had under-rated him/her.
With this new method of using the GAF Score as only part of the equation, the VA can under-rate a veteran,
making it very difficult for the veteran to find the evidence needed to appeal. I urge all veterans not to believe
any rating without serious research to verify that you were not under-rated." ~ Sarge ~

Although they announced that the GAF Scores were discontinued in 2003, they are still using them in combination with other factors, making GAF Scores only part of the equation.

GAF Scores: What Do They Mean?

0-40 = 100% Disability

41-50 = 70% Disability

51-60 = 50% Disability

61-70 = 30% Disability

71-80 = 10% Disability

81-100 = 0% Disability



There are two significant benefits for dependents that come with a "permanent and total" rating: Educational Benefits (Chapter 35) and Medical Benefits (CHAMPVA). Be sure to ask the VA about these benefits, as they may not tell you.

If a Vet is rated at 100% for a service-connected disability for at least 10 years and he passes away, even if it's not from his service-connected disability, the spouse receives monthly compensation.


Also from the horse's mouth:

Criteria For Disability Evaluation - Nervous Conditions

In evaluation of nervous conditions it is important to describe all symptoms attributable to the underlying condition. The frequency and severity of such symptoms are essentials of evaluation. How these symptoms affect the day-to-day adjustment to society is of concern. Describe any changes in behavioral patterns including irritability, anger, confusion, loss of confidence, inability to concentrate, memory loss, fear or panic, explosion into aggressive action, uncontrolled tremors, ability to withstand pressure or stress, withdrawal, loss of interest. Impairment of ability to relate to people, socially and industrially, is important factor in the determination of degree of disability. Reduction of reliability, flexibility and efficiency levels are anticipated with resultant industrial and social inadaptability as condition progresses, so detailed report of such circumstances should be reported. Furnish data on medication and other therapeutic measures prescribed.


An Opinion as to Prognosis is Sought

The preceding two sections, (Diagnostic criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Criteria For Disability Evaluation - Nervous Conditions), are what your doctor has been taught to look for in his or her evaluation of you. "Chronic" PTSD is the requirement to be rated 100% disabled from PTSD. Study these two sections noting all of the symptoms that pertain to you. This will help you understand your own PTSD better. This is important because we usually precede getting to this point (applying for disability) with a long number of years of denial. Many vets are shocked at how many of the above symptoms they have. This is the beginning of the end of the denial stage for many vets. You will also be evaluated through your body language and eye contact. Don't force yourself to look in the doctors eyes if it is not normal or comfortable. You will be giving the doctor misleading information. If you don't usually look people in the eye but you make yourself look into the doctors eyes the doctor will miss seeing one of your symptoms. Act in your normal manor so that the doctor can see and understand your problems.

It will take a long time for the rating board to make a decision about your rating exam, within 6-8 months. (Remember your back pay is building this whole time.) After you receive the results of this rating you will have 1 year to appeal the decision. If you wait more than 1 year you lose your back pay date and would only be paid back to the date that you reapplied after the year elapsed. So don't wait, appeal immediately no matter what percent you get until you feel that the percentage matches your disability level.

IMPORTANT: Two or three days after your rating exam go to the VA hospital where your records are and request a copy of the rating exam. This is not secret information, it is your right to know what is in your records. Read what the rating exam doctor had to say about you after the exam.


The AXIS I through AXIS V are your evaluation. The most important is AXIS I being the diagnosis, or what was found wrong, and AXIS V is the prognosis, or how it looks for future progress. Also you will find it says, "Competent for VA purposes," don't worry about that it's a good thing. It just means that you don't need to be locked up against your will, or "committed" as the doctors prefer saying.




AXIS IV: PSYCHOSOCIAL STRESSORS (homeless, unemployment, marital conflict, etc.)

AXIS V: GLOBAL ASSESSMENT of FUNCTIONING SCALE, expressed as: none, mild, moderate, severe and then it'll have numbers listed to represent, eye movement, or non-eye contact, tearful, fearful, and these kinds of assessments. (0 is a drooling brain dead person, 100 is a perfectly functioning individual.)


DON'T MISS THIS! Some very helpful advice on submitting your claim donated to this site by Patience Mason, Editor, The Post-Traumatic Gazette and author of Recovering From the War! ADVICE FROM PATIENCE MASON!


We hope this guide and information are useful to you. Feel free to copy or print out this guide, but please respect the copyright by not removing our names or copyright information.

This guide is meant to be used in a loop. In other words, when you get through the process and are awarded a percentage of disability, you should go to the beginning of this guide and re-appeal for a higher percentage by simply following the steps again. Hope it helps.

~ Sarge and Leslie ~



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