How does the VA Evaluate My PTSD Using a PLC-5 form?

If you’re a veteran seeking financial assistance from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for PTSD, you’ll need to fill out a PCL-5 form. It helps assess the existence and severity of PTSD symptoms, and you’ll likely be given it prior to your Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam. There are three versions of this form—the PCL-M is for military personnel—and you’ll answer questions about “stressful military experiences.” 

Filling out a PCL-5 form for PTSD evaluation

Using the PLC-M for Your Evaluation

When you arrive for your C&P exam for PTSD, you'll probably be given the PLC-5 (PCL-M) paper exam. This exam is a PTSD checklist that has approximately 20 questions. It’s used as a self-screening tool—or self-reporting tool—to assist in diagnosing PTSD.

The PCL-5 helps to:

  • Monitor the changes in symptoms during and after a patient is treated
  • Screen patients for PTSD
  • Make a provisional (temporary) diagnosis of PTSD

The PCL-5 can be completed in about 5–10 minutes and is usually filled out in the waiting room. Veterans are asked to rate certain symptoms over the last month using the following 0–4 scale:

  • 0 = Not at all
  • 1 = A little bit
  • 2 Moderately
  • 3 Quite a bit
  • 4 Extremely

Using these scores, the C&P examiner can make a “provisional diagnosis” of PTSD. For a veteran to have a probable diagnosis of PTSD, he must have given a "2 or higher rating in each of the four symptoms groups." Also, if the veteran scored 38 or higher after answering all questions, it’s probable that he has PTSD. 

Cuddigan Law and Your PTSD Claim

The experienced legal team at Cuddigan Law recognizes and respects the sacrifices veterans made to protect this country. They understand that PTSD is a debilitating mental condition that can severely and negatively impact a veteran’s life.

If you need help with your upcoming C&P exam or service-connecting your PTSD and want to file for disability benefits, contact Cuddigan Law. Our attorneys have supported veterans for years, and we’ll carefully examine your case and advise you on the best approach for receiving the maximum in disability benefits. Call us today, and you’ll speak to an intake specialist for free.