The VA System & The 38 CFR
VA stands for Veterans Administration also known as the Department of Veterans Affairs. Most Veterans joke about how it seems like the VA must use a dart board to decide how much disability to award a Veteran. We agree the VA system is a real piece of bureaucratic mumbo jumbo, but we want you to know the VA does not use a dart board to determine how much disability to award you. They put your name in a hat and throw the hat up against a wall. Who’s ever name stays in the hat........ just kidding!
The VA is required by Federal Laws enacted by Congress to make their determination to award benefits based on the 38 CFR as well as information provided by a Veteran or his or her appointed representative. These laws are called Federal Regulations and can be found in a book called, “Title 38 Code of Federal Regulations”. This book is often referred to as “Title 38" or “The 38 CFR”. There are two volumes of this book. Title 38 CFR Volume I and Title 38 CFR Volume II. Most everything which deals with the governing of the VA and Veterans Benefits can be found in the 38 CFR.
For example; If you wanted to know how VA employees are supposed to conduct themselves you could look up “Standard of Ethical conduct and Related Responsibilities of VA Employees” in the 38 CFR. This can be found under Subpart B, part 0, section 0.735-10 to section 0.735-23. If you look in that section of the 38 CFR you will find an explanation of “General requirements, Gifts, Entertainment and favors, Outside employment activity or compensation, Financial interests, Use of Government property, Disclosure or misuse of information, Indebtedness, Gambling, betting and lotteries, Relations with firms or persons seeking or doing business with the VA, Other conduct of the job, Standards of conduct in special areas and Miscellaneous statutory provisions”.
Learning to use the 38 CFR is easy and important. Each Volume explains how to understand it and how to use it. You can buy a 38 CFR at any Federal Book Store. If you are Online point your browser to: http://www.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/cfrassemble.cgi?title=199838 . Here you will find both volumes of the 38 CFR. You can also find copies of the 38 CFR at your public library. Most of the information you will need for a PTSD Claim can be found in Volume I of the 38 CFR.
The 38 CFR lists every illness the VA pays compensation for and what criteria is used to evaluate the percent of disability a Veteran is entitled to receive. After you spend a little time reading the 38 CFR you will begin to better understand how the VA determines what percentage to rate a disability and why. You will also be able to better understand what criteria the VA needs to be able to rate your PTSD disability.
Thus, to understand how the VA determines the rating percentage of disability for PTSD we need to use the 38 CFR. First we go to part 4 “SCHEDULE FOR RATING DISABILITIES”. Then we look under part 4, section .131 which is titled “Mental Disorders Due to Psychic Trauma”. As we look we find Post-traumatic stress disorder which is illness number 9411 listed under Psychoneurotic Disorders. There we find exactly what criteria the Rating Board needs from a Veteran to rate him or her either 100%, 70%, 50%, 30%, 10% and 0% for service connected PTSD.
Once you have studied the 38 CFR you should be better convinced there is no dart board used to determine the rating degrees of disability. Instead , there is a specific set of guidelines or criteria which a Veteran must provide the VA so they, in turn, will be required by Federal Law to award a fair and justifiable Disability Rating.
A disability rating of 10% or higher means compensation. Compensation means money and benefits. If you have PTSD with a 10% or higher disability rating you will receive a monthly income from the US Government. That is what this booklet is all about. Helping a Veteran understand what is needed to file a claim, how to file the claim and how to help the VA work for you........ not against you.