In this post, we’ll explain the different PTSD MST VA rating percentages and how the VA rates MST.
Military Sexual Trauma (MST) frequently leads to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health conditions that affect quality of life.
If you experienced MST during military service, you deserve the appropriate VA rating, benefits, and compensation.
Let’s get started.
- PTSD MST Compensation Rating Criteria
- VA Disability Ratings for PTSD Due to MST
- PTSD MST VA Claims Process
- Veterans MST PTSD Claims Information
- Additional MST Guides
- NEED MORE ASSISTANCE?
- About the Author
PTSD MST Compensation Rating Criteria
While military sexual trauma isn’t a ratable mental health condition, you can receive VA disability benefits for mental health conditions related to MST. For example, many veterans who experience MST develop mental health conditions, including Anxiety, Depression, Substance Abuse, and PTSD.
Even though there is no specific MST VA rating for military sexual trauma, you can still qualify for VA benefits and compensation.
Before being granted an MST VA Rating, you must prove a service connection, determining whether your mental health condition should be service-connected.
You can visit your local VA medical center for assistance in your diagnosis or speak with your primary care physician about your symptoms related to MST.
To prove your service connection, you must provide the following:
- A current diagnosis; AND
- An in-service event, disease, or injury; AND
- Medical nexus from a physician that links your diagnosis and an in-service event (can be a Nexus Letter)
PRO TIP: It’s also helpful to write a personal statement or obtain buddy statements from close family or friends who have witnessed the effect of your mental health condition.
VA Disability Ratings for PTSD Due to MST
The VA rates PTSD due to MST at 100%, 70%, 50%, 30%, 10%, or 0%, depending on the severity of your symptoms.
100% VA Rating for MST
Total occupational and social impairment due to such symptoms as gross impairment in thought processes or communication, including:
- Persistent delusions or hallucinations; grossly inappropriate behavior;
- Persistent danger of hurting self or others;
- Intermittent inability to perform activities of daily living (including maintenance of minimal personal hygiene);
- Disorientation to time or place;
- Memory loss for names of close relatives, own occupation, or own name.
70% VA Rating for MST
Occupational and social impairment, with deficiencies in most areas, such as work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood, due to such symptoms as:
- Suicidal ideation
- Obsessional rituals that interfere with routine activities
- Speech intermittently illogical, obscure, or irrelevant
- Near-continuous panic or depression affecting the ability to function independently, appropriately, and effectively
- Impaired impulse control (such as unprovoked irritability with periods of violence);
- Spatial disorientation
- Neglect of personal appearance and hygiene
- Difficulty in adapting to stressful circumstances (including work or a work-like setting)
- Inability to establish and maintain effective relationships
50% VA Rating for MST
Occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity, such as:
- Flattened affect
- Circumstantial, circumlocutory, or stereotyped speech
- Panic attacks more than once a week
- Difficulty in understanding complex commands
- Impairment of short- and long-term memory (e.g., retention of only highly learned material, forgetting to complete tasks)
- Impaired judgment
- Impaired abstract thinking disturbances of motivation and mood
- Difficulty in establishing and maintaining effective work and social relationships.
30% VA Rating for MST
Occupational and social impairment with occasional decrease in work efficiency and intermittent periods of inability to perform occupational tasks (although generally functioning satisfactorily, with routine behavior, self-care, and conversation normal) due to such symptoms as:
- Depressed mood, anxiety, suspiciousness, panic attacks (weekly or less often), chronic sleep impairment, mild memory loss (such as forgetting names, directions, and recent events).
10% VA Rating for MST
Occupational and social impairment due to mild or transient symptoms that decrease work efficiency and ability to perform occupational tasks only during periods of significant stress or symptoms controlled by continuous medication.
0% MST VA Rating
A mental health condition has been formally diagnosed, but symptoms are not severe enough to interfere with occupational and social functioning or require continuous medication.
You DESERVE a HIGHER VA rating.
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PTSD MST VA Claims Process
For VA disability purposes, PTSD MST VA claims are incredibly personal and sensitive and frequently lack sufficient evidence to prove that the in-service stressor event occurred.
In compliance with 38 CFR 3.159(c)(4), an examination for MST PTSD will always be needed when a thorough review shows:
- A current medical diagnosis of PTSD or the veteran’s lay statements, aka, Buddy Letter for PTSD, describing PTSD symptoms (VA Claims Insider recommends at least one Buddy Letter to support your MST PTSD VA claim).
- Credible supporting evidence of the personal trauma incident or evidence of a marker in the in-service or post-service records
- An indication that the PTSD symptoms may be associated with the claimed MST stressor (established by applying a low threshold and liberal approach satisfied by virtue of a current diagnosis or symptoms and the presence of a marker) and
- Medical evidence adequate for rating purposes still needs to be added to the record.
Veterans MST PTSD Claims Information
Personal trauma for the purpose of VA disability compensation claims based on PTSD refers to stressor events involving harm perpetrated by a person not considered part of an enemy force.
Examples: Assault, battery, robbery, mugging, stalking, harassment.
Military sexual trauma (MST) is a subset of personal trauma and refers to sexual harassment, sexual assault, or rape in a military setting.
Reference: For more information on processing claims for PTSD based on personal trauma, see
- M21-1, Part VIII, Subpart iv, 1. E
- The PTSD Personal Assault Information site on the Compensation Service Intranet and
- 38 CFR 3.304(f)(5)
When a veteran claims SC for PTSD based on in-service personal trauma, undertake the required development of the claim for credible evidence to support the veteran’s assertion that the stressful event occurred.
Because personal trauma is a highly personal and sensitive issue,
- Many incidents of personal trauma are not officially reported, and
- The victims of this type of in-service trauma may find it difficult to produce evidence to support the occurrence of the stressor.
- Identifying possible sources of evidence to support the claim may require asking the veteran for information concerning the traumatic incident. Make this request as compassionately as possible to avoid causing further trauma.
- Although personal trauma is often thought of as involving female veterans, male veterans may also be affected. Be sure requests for evidence/information reflect the appropriate gender of the veteran.
Notes: The development activity must work closely with the rating activity when developing personal trauma cases. The procedures identified throughout this section are intended to supplement the general guidelines for developing PTSD claims provided in M21-1, Part VIII, Subpart iv, 1.A.
References: For more information on applying the benefit-of-the-doubt rule, see:
Negative evidence, see
- Forshey v. Principi, 284 F.3d 1335 (Fed. Cir. 2002) (en banc), and
- Maxson v. Gober, 230 F.3d 1330 (Fed. Cir. 2000), and
Absence of military documentation of an in-service sexual assault, see
In cases where the only evidence of the personal trauma stressor is behavioral changes that may be markers of the claimed trauma, an examination is almost always needed because the marker itself does not establish the occurrence of the stressor. Still, the qualified examiner’s opinion can provide credible and probative evidence to make that determination.
The examination is explicitly needed to determine the following:
- Whether a medical opinion can provide evidence for the occurrence of the claimed in-service personal trauma stressor based on the marker and the veteran’s lay statement and
- Whether that claimed stressor is related to current PTSD symptoms.
Important: To ensure the examination request language is adequate, use the existing examination request tools to generate the necessary PTSD MST or PTSD personal trauma (non-MST) medical opinion based on the nature of the claimed stressor.
References: For more information on:
- Requesting examinations, see M21-1, Part IV, Subpart i, 2
- Evidence that may constitute markers of trauma, see M21-1, Part VIII, Subpart iv, 1.E.1.d.
For medical opinions to interpret evidence of behavioral changes, see:
For MST PTSD claims, VA Raters, also known as RVSRs, must request a medical opinion based on MST, and the only evidence of the MST stressor are behavioral changes that may be markers of the claimed trauma.
Additional MST Guides
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About the Author
Brian Reese is one of the top VA disability benefits experts in the world and bestselling author of You Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Benefits You’ve Earned (Second Edition).
Brian’s frustration with the VA claim process led him to create VA Claims Insider, which provides disabled veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned to win their VA disability compensation claim, faster, even if they’ve already filed, been denied, gave up, or don’t know where to start.
As the founder of VA Claims Insider and CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, he has helped serve more than 10 million military members and veterans since 2013 through free online educational resources.
He is a former active duty Air Force officer with extensive experience leading hundreds of individuals and multi-functional teams in challenging international environments, including a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011 supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
Brian is a Distinguished Graduate of Management from the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, and he holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, Stillwater, OK, where he was a National Honor Scholar (Top 1% of Graduate School class).