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December 21, 2019

Free VA PTSD Test for Veterans

Last updated on March 22, 2021

Brian Reese here from VA Claims Insider, and today, I’m giving you FREE access to the most widely accepted VA PTSD Test for Veterans.

If you’ve ever wondered if you might have combat PTSD or non-combat PTSD from your military service, this 20 question PCL-5 VA PTSD Test checklist is a great place to start your assessment.

And by the way, PTSD always has “stressors,” and PTSD stressor verification is a huge part of how the VA determines whether PTSD is service-connected.

Do you need to file a VA claim for PTSD? Click HERE for tips, strategies, and lessons learned.

Included below is a free online version of the 20-question PLC-5, which is how many VA psychologists and psychiatrists screen veterans for military PTSD.

Once you’ve completed the quiz, your raw score will be displayed along with some useful PTSD tips.

What is the PCL-5?

The PCL-5 is a 20-item self-test that measures and assesses the 20 DSM-5 symptoms of PTSD in Veterans.

The PCL-5 PTSD screening tool has a variety of purposes for both Veterans and Clinicians, including:

  • Monitoring symptom change during and after treatment
  • Screening individuals for PTSD
  • Making a provisional PTSD diagnosis

Interpretation of the PCL-5 should be made by a clinician, but since it’s a self-reported assessment, Veterans can take the free VA PTSD Test to assess and measure their likelihood of having PTSD.

The PCL-5 can be scored in 3 different ways although we recommend using the raw score to determine the probability that a Veteran has PTSD:

  • A total symptom severity score (range of 0-80) can be obtained by summing the scores for each of the 20 items. Each of the 20 items is scored from 0-4, with 0 being the lowest and 4 being the highest.
  • DSM-5 symptom cluster severity scores can be obtained by summing the scores for the items within a given cluster, i.e., cluster B (items 1-5), cluster C (items 6-7), cluster D (items 8-14), and cluster E (items 15-20). The clusters represent various PTSD markers.
  • A provisional diagnosis of PTSD for VA purposes can be made by treating each item rated as 2 = “Moderately” or higher as a symptom endorsed, then following the DSM-5 diagnostic rule which requires at least: 1 B item (questions 1-5), 1 C item (questions 6-7), 2 D items (questions 8-14), 2 E items (questions 15-20).

According to widely accepted research regarding provisional diagnosis of PTSD in Veterans, a PCL-5 cutoff score between 31-33 is indicative of probable PTSD, however, more research is needed.

For VA rating purposes, there seems to be a trend towad a PTSD cutoff score of 33, and I think Veterans need to be aware of this before completing a PLC-5 at the VA or during a C&P Exam for PTSD.

The PCL-5 Online VA PTSD Test for Veterans

PCL-5 Quiz: The 20-Question VA PTSD Test for Veterans

The PCL-5 Quiz is a 20-question self-report VA PTSD Test to measure and assess the 20 DSM-5 symptoms of PTSD in veterans.

1. In the past month, how much were you bothered by: Repeated, disturbing, and unwanted memories of the stressful experience? *
2. In the past month, how much were you bothered by: Repeated, disturbing dreams of the stressful experience? *
3. In the past month, how much were you bothered by: Suddenly feeling or acting as if the stressful experience were actually happening again (as if you were actually back there reliving it)? *
4. In the past month, how much were you bothered by: Feeling very upset when something reminded you of the stressful experience? *
5. In the past month, how much were you bothered by: Having strong physical reactions when something reminded you of the stressful experience (for example, heart pounding, trouble breathing, sweating)? *
6. In the past month, how much were you bothered by: Avoiding memories, thoughts, or feelings related to the stressful experience? *
7. In the past month, how much were you bothered by: Avoiding external reminders of the stressful experience (for example, people, places, conversations, activities, objects, or situations)? *
8. In the past month, how much were you bothered by: Trouble remembering important parts of the stressful experience? *
9. In the past month, how much were you bothered by: Having strong negative beliefs about yourself, other people, or the world (for example, having thoughts such as: I am bad, there is something seriously wrong with me, no one can be trusted, the world is completely dangerous)? *
10. In the past month, how much were you bothered by: Blaming yourself or someone else for the stressful experience or what happened after it? *
11. In the past month, how much were you bothered by: Having strong negative feelings such as fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame? *
12. In the past month, how much were you bothered by: Loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy? *
13. In the past month, how much were you bothered by: Feeling distant or cut off from other people? *
14. In the past month, how much were you bothered by: Trouble experiencing positive feelings (for example, being unable to feel happiness or have loving feelings for people close to you)? *
15. In the past month, how much were you bothered by: Irritable behavior, angry outbursts, or acting aggressively? *
16. In the past month, how much were you bothered by: Taking too many risks or doing things that could cause you harm? *
17. In the past month, how much were you bothered by: Being “superalert” or watchful or on guard? *
18. In the past month, how much were you bothered by: Feeling jumpy or easily startled? *
19. In the past month, how much were you bothered by: Having difficulty concentrating? *
20. In the past month, how much were you bothered by: Trouble falling or staying asleep? *

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About the Author

Brian Reese
Brian Reese

Brian Reese

Founder & CEO

Brian Reese is VA disability expert, former Air Force captain, and founder of VA Claims Insider – “The Most Trusted Name in Education-Based Resources for Veterans.”

His frustration with the 8-step VA disability claims process led him to create “VA Claims Insider,” which provides U.S. military veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned for successfully submitting or re-submitting a winning VA disability compensation claim.

Brian is also the CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, which is the world’s largest free searchable database for all things related to DoD disability and VA disability claims and has served more than 4,600,000 military members and veterans since its founding in 2013.

His eBook, the “9 Secrets Strategies for Winning Your VA Disability Claim” has been downloaded more than 300,000 times in the past three years and is the #1 rated free VA disability claims guide for veterans.

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).

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