Win Your PTSD Claim: 6 Steps To Perfect Your Lay Statement
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that affects many veterans and service members. One way to support your PTSD disability claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is by submitting a lay statement. A lay statement is a written statement that describes your symptoms, experiences, and how they affect your daily life. In this article, we will discuss how to write a PTSD lay statement that can help support your disability claim.
How to address potential gaps in medical records or service records in a lay statement
Addressing potential gaps in medical records or service records in a lay statement is another important aspect of supporting a disability claim for PTSD. In some cases, medical or service records may not fully document a veteran’s experiences or symptoms, particularly if they did not seek treatment for PTSD immediately after their service. In these cases, a lay statement can help fill in the gaps by providing a detailed account of the veteran’s experiences and symptoms. It is essential to be as specific as possible, providing dates, locations, and descriptions of events that caused or contributed to PTSD. The lay statement should also include information about any attempts to seek treatment, including visits to mental health providers, support groups, or other resources. By providing a detailed and comprehensive account of their experiences, veterans can help ensure that their disability claim accurately reflects the impact of their PTSD on their daily life.
Writing Your Lay Statement and the Sections Required
The importance of being detailed and specific when describing symptoms in VA lay statements.
Being detailed and specific when describing symptoms in a lay statement is crucial to supporting a disability claim for PTSD. The VA relies on detailed accounts of a veteran’s experiences and symptoms to determine the severity of the condition and the appropriate disability rating.
Without specific details, the VA may not fully understand the extent of the veteran’s condition and the impact it has on their daily life. When writing a lay statement, it is important to provide specific examples of how symptoms affect the veteran’s ability to work, engage in social activities, and perform daily tasks.
This includes details about the frequency, intensity, and duration of symptoms, as well as any triggers or situations that exacerbate them. By providing specific information, the veteran can help the VA understand the full impact of their PTSD and increase the chances of a successful disability claim.
What forms do I need to file for a VA PTSD Increase or Service Connection Claim?
#1 Describe what condition for which you are filing.
In any lay statement, you must describe what you are filing for. The letter won’t do you any good if they have to read 1-2 paragraphs to understand what the letter is about. Make sure you start with a solid first sentence.
You must understand if you are seeking initial service-connection or if you are applying for an increase for your VA benefits.
The initial service-connection should be when you are not yet service-connected for the condition. Additionally, it is important that you not only provide a lay statement for an initial service-connection, but you should also be preparing a ptsd stressor statement VA form 21-0781, or VA form 21-0781a (dependent on your stressor type).
The increase should be used in the event you are service-connected for the condition, and have a present rating (0-100%).
PTSD Statement Example for initial Service Connection: I am filing for PTSD due to combat experiences.
Statement Example for an increase: I am filing for an increase for PTSD due to worsening my symptoms.
#2 Why do You Believe this should be service connected or increased?
Describe the incident(s) that caused your Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or how your PTSD has worsened since service connection?
Initial Service Connection of PTSD
If this is for an initial claim for veterans disability compensation to service-connect PTSD, provide a brief description of the incident(s) that caused or contributed to your PTSD. This could include combat experience, sexual trauma, or other traumatic events. Be as specific as possible and include dates, locations, and any other relevant details.
PTSD Stressor Statement Examples: During my deployment to Iraq in 2007, my unit was attacked with mortars. I witnessed several of his fellow soldiers being killed. I was also responsible for treating the wounded, including some who did not survive.
Increase Request – Describe why you should receive the increase for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
If this is for an increase and you are already service-connected for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, you will want to mention how the condition is worse.
PTSD Increase Request Example: I have found myself getting worse with my symptoms of PTSD. I have continued treatment with a private psychologist, but I am now isolating myself and avoiding many social and work events.
Understand Your PTSD Symptoms Prior to Writing About Them.
38 CFR 4.130 is a regulation that provides guidance for evaluating the severity of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans. While it does not provide a specific definition of the symptoms such as: “grossly inappropriate behavior,” this symptom is generally associated with behaviors that are significantly outside of what is considered socially acceptable or appropriate. These behaviors may cause harm to ones’ self or others. Therefore, it is important to understand where your symptoms relate with the regulation.
Examples of grossly inappropriate behavior in the context of PTSD may include aggression, impulsivity, reckless behavior, substance abuse, or other harmful behaviors that are out of character for the individual and may be linked to their PTSD. Ultimately, the severity and impact of these behaviors on the individual’s daily life will be evaluated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as part of the disability rating process under the General Rating Formula for Mental Health 38 CFR 4.130.
**Important Note about combat decorations and PTSD:**
If you are the recipient of any of the following combat decorations, you DO NOT HAVE TO PROVE YOUR STRESSOR. Item # 2 should be replaced with “I am the recipient of the Combat Infantryman’s Badge (CIB)”. (or the appropriate combat decoration).
- Air Force Achievement Medal with “V” Device
- Air Force Combat Action Medal
- Air Force Commendation Medal with “V” Device
- Air Force Cross
- Air Medal with “V” Device
- Army Commendation Medal with “V” Device
- Bronze Star Medal with “V” Device
- “C” device, denoting combat conditions, when affixed to other awards for meritorious service or achievement
- Combat Action Badge (CAB)
- Combat Action Ribbon (CAR) (Prior to February 1969, the Navy Achievement Medal with “V” Device was awarded.)
- Combat Aircrew Insignia
- Combat Infantry/Infantryman Badge (CIB)
- Combat Medical Badge
- Distinguished Flying Cross
- Distinguished Service Cross
- Fleet Marine Force (FMF) Combat Operations Insignia
- Joint Service Commendation Medal with “V” Device
- Medal of Honor
- Navy Commendation Medal with “V” Device
- Navy Cross
- Parachutist Badge with Combat Jump Device
- Purple Heart, and/or
- Silver Star
#3 Describe the symptoms of your PTSD
For example, you may want to describe how often you experience suicidal ideation, how it affects your ability to function, and any specific triggers that may cause these thoughts. Similarly, suppose you are experiencing grossly inappropriate behavior. In that case, you may want to provide specific examples of the behavior and how it has affected your relationships, employment, or other aspects of your life.
Do NOT describe other conditions that may add to your symptoms, such as Tinnitus. It is not relevant to the claim in this case.
Describe Your Symptoms
Describe the symptoms you experience as a result of your PTSD. This could include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, depression, anger, and difficulty sleeping. Be specific about how your symptoms affect your daily life, such as your ability to work, socialize, or engage in hobbies.
Example: Since returning from Iraq, I experience severe anxiety and depression. I have frequent nightmares and flashbacks of the attack, and he is easily startled by loud noises. I avoid crowds and social situations and have difficulty sleeping. I am unable to work or engage in activities he used to enjoy.
Describe treatment for PTSD
Describe any treatment you have received for your PTSD, including therapy, medication, or other forms of treatment. If you have not received treatment, explain why and whether you plan to seek treatment in the future.
Example: I continue to receive treatment for PTSD through the VA and private treatment, including medication and therapy. However, my symptoms persist and have not improved significantly.
#4 Describe how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Inhibits Your Work and Social Life
How does PTSD Affect you Occupationally and Socially
Summarize the main points of your statement and reiterate your support for the disability claim. Additionally, state how you are occupationally and socially disabled in this statement.
Example: In summary, PTSD has a significant impact on my daily life. I am s unable to work or engage in activities I used to enjoy. I have not worked since 2015 due to my issues. I have been divorced twice due to the PTSD as well.
Tips for writing a strong lay statement
Be honest and specific about your experiences and symptoms.
Use concrete examples to illustrate your points.
Keep the statement focused on the veteran’s experiences and symptoms, not on your own experiences or opinions.
Avoid making legal arguments or discussing the VA’s disability rating criteria.
In conclusion, writing a PTSD lay statement can be a powerful tool in supporting your disability claim. By describing the veteran’s experiences, symptoms, and treatment, you can provide valuable information to the VA that may help them understand the impact of PTSD on the veteran’s life. With these tips, you can write a strong lay statement that effectively communicates your experiences and supports your disability claim.
Did You Know….
“Writing a compelling PTSD lay statement is a crucial step in supporting your VA disability claim. By providing detailed and specific information about your symptoms, medical history, and service record, you can help ensure that the VA understands the full extent of your condition and how it impacts your daily life. Whether you are writing the statement yourself or working with a Veterans Service Officer, taking the time to craft a thoughtful and accurate lay statement can make all the difference in your claim’s outcome.”
- A PTSD lay statement is an important document that can support your VA disability claim by providing detailed information about your symptoms, medical history, and service record.
- When writing a PTSD lay statement, it’s important to be specific and detailed in your descriptions of symptoms and how they impact your daily life.
- You can address potential gaps in your medical or service record by providing context and additional information in your lay statement.
- Reviewing and revising your lay statement can improve its quality and increase the chances of a successful outcome for your disability claim.
- A: A lay statement is a written statement that describes your experiences, symptoms, and how they affect your daily life. It is a tool used to support your disability claim with the VA.
- A: Anyone who has knowledge of the veteran’s experiences and symptoms can write a lay statement. This includes spouses, family members, friends, and colleagues. You will want to make sure they use the proper form: VA Form 21-10210
- A: You should include a brief introduction, a description of the incident(s) that caused or contributed to your PTSD, a description of your symptoms, information about any treatment you have received, and a summary of your support for the disability claim.
- A: There is no set length for a lay statement. It should be long enough to effectively communicate your experiences and symptoms, but concise enough to hold the reader’s attention.
- A: No, you should avoid making legal arguments or discussing the VA’s disability rating criteria in your lay statement. Stick to describing your experiences and symptoms and how they affect your daily life.
- A: Yes, you can submit multiple lay statements from different individuals who have knowledge of the veteran’s experiences and symptoms. However, it is important to ensure that the statements are consistent and do not contradict each other.
- A: You can submit a lay statement as part of your disability claim application. It can be included with other supporting documentation, such as medical records and service records.
- A:A PTSD stressor statement is a written or oral account of the traumatic event or events that caused an individual to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is a crucial component of a PTSD claim or application for benefits.
- To receive VA disability compensation for PTSD, a veteran must provide evidence of a traumatic event during their military service. This event must have been “traumatic,” meaning it involved actual or threatened death or serious injury or a threat to the physical integrity of the veteran or others.The stressor statement should describe the details of the traumatic event or events, including the time, place, and nature of the event, as well as any physical or emotional reactions experienced by the veteran at the time. The statement should be as detailed and specific as possible to provide convincing evidence that the event or events did occur and were traumatic.It is important to note that a PTSD stressor statement is not the only form of evidence that can be used to support a claim for VA disability compensation for PTSD. Other forms of evidence may include medical records, witness statements, and military records. However, a well-written stressor statement can be a powerful tool in demonstrating that the veteran’s PTSD was caused by a traumatic event during their military service.
- The VA Form for the stressor statement should be completed with a VA Form 21-0781 or a VA Form 21-0781a (Personal Assault).
A nexus statement is not required; however, if you continue to get denied, it would be a logical next step to get one.