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PTSD and VA Compensation

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VA Compensation for PTSD

This page will discuss how to get VA compensation for PTSD.  Post traumatic stress disorder is a very common disability among veterans trying to get service connected disability and I will try and explain how the Veterans Administration determines service connection for your posttraumatic stress disorder and if you are entitled to veterans benefits.

I will first discuss what is PTSD? I will then discuss the three requirements to be found disabled and get VA compensation for PTSD.  I will also discuss when it may be a good idea to get a VA lawyer for your claim and how they can help.  If you have decided you already need a lawyer or would like to ask some questions call me at 1-877-527-5529.

Lawyer for PTSD VA Claim

Post traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder. A person may develop PTSD if they are exposed to some sort of traumatic event such as an event that causes fear of death, fear of death of another, sexual trauma, car accidents, see a horrible event or any other event or series of events that makes one scared of harm to oneself or others. Anyone who has experienced a traumatic event may develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Most people who experience a traumatic event will have some symptoms directly after or during the event but not all. And not all people who experience traumatic events develop PTSD. Some people may experience very little if any symptoms directly after the event but may develop symptoms months or even years later.

 

Requirements or Test for VA Compensation for PTSD

So what are the requirements to qualify for VA compensation for PTSD? You must have medical evidence that diagnosis PTSD in accordance with the diagnostic criteria in DSM-IV. You must also have a link between your current symptoms and in-service stressor established by medical evidence. Lastly, you must have credible supporting evidence that the claimed stressor occurred. To win your claim for PTSD VA compensation you must have evidence that shows "it is at least as likely as not" that you meet all three requirements. I will now go to little more detailed into each of these requirements.

It is important to remember when I discuss these three requirements that the standard of proof is "at least as likely as not" which means if the evidence is equal as to whether you meet the requirement or not the benefit of the doubt goes to the veteran.

Step 1: Medical Diagnosis of PTSD

As I described earlier you must have a medical diagnosis of PTSD under the diagnosis criteria of DSM-IV. So if you have a diagnosis of PTSD in is a good idea to get a report from your doctorthat explains how he came to this conclusion under DSM-IV criteria. This step can often be complicated when the veteran is given a diagnosis for his mental condition of other than PTSD by another doctor. This is why it is important that the doctor who diagnoses the PTSD fully describes in a report why he feels this way and how it meets the criteria under DSM-IV.

Step 2: In-service stressor (traumatic event(s) while serving)

The veteran must also show evidence of a stressor in service. This means the stressful event that cause the PTSD must have occurred while he was in service. It is important to note that combat is not the only stressor that can occur in service and cause PTSD. Any traumatic event that satisfies the diagnostic criteria in DSM-IV is acceptable. However, I should note there are special rules and it is significantly easier to prove an in-service stressor if the veteran was in combat or a former prisoner of war. I should also note it does not have to be one stressor that caused the PTSD in service it can be multiple stressors and the veteran should note all of the stressors in his claim for VA compensation.  Many veterans may lose their PTSD claim due to a technicality so it is very important that a veteran complete VA form 21 -- 0781, statement in support of claim for service connection for post tramatic stress disorder. I have seen many decisions where the VA claims they did not receive this form and; therefore, it did not allow them to verify the veteran's stressor. Many veterans who have been denied for this reason tell me that they sent it in but this is why it is important to send everything into the VA certified mail so that you have proof that you have done so. The following is taken from one of these cases that was denied for this reason and explains what is required. "The US armed services research center for research of unit records (SASCRUR) has provided Department of Veterans Affairs with a booklet entitled, Guide for Preparation and Submission of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Research Requests for guidance in requesting confirmation of alleged in-service stressful event(s) reported in conjunction with claims for service connection for post traumatic stress disorder. The US Armed Service Center for Research of Unit Records cannot conduct proper research to confirm these stressors without certain specific details to include names of any casualties known and Units to which assigned (down to the company level); dates of events (minimum month and year); unit veteran as assigned to when the claimed event or incident occurred (down to the company level); names of particular campaigns involved with at the time of the event or incident; and specific locations where the events where incidents occurred. You fail to provide any specific information capable of verifying any of the claimed events or incidents; therefore, your claim is denied for lack of a verifiable stressor." As I stated earlier, there are two separate rules in determining in-service stressors. I will first discuss combat stressors.

Combat in service stressor

If it is shown that the veteran was in combat then the veteran statements by themselves may establish the occurrence of the claimed in-service stressor in the absence of clear and convincing evidence to the contrary and provided that the claimed stressor is consistent with the circumstances conditions or hardships of the veteran's service. The rules are essentially the same for POWs. The veterans DD 214 can be extremely helpful in showing the veteran engaged in combat. It may be shown by certain medals received, the veteran specialty, the unity was assigned to and during what dates. If the information and the veterans file is not enough to show the veteran was in combat there are many ways to get supporting documentation to show combat experience and it would be a good idea at this point to get a lawyer or representatives help to get the  supporting evidence needed.

Non-combat stressor

If the veteran did not engage in combat then proving the stressor can be more difficult. The veteran must supply credible supporting evidence that the claimed in-service stressor occurred. In this case, the veterans statements by themselves are not enough to establish an in-service stressor. It is important that the veteran be specific as possible as to the stressful event or events that occurred including as much detail about individuals involved, dates, location and what the events were. The events can many times be corroborated by the veterans military service records but it can also come from other sources. It is always a good idea to get written statements from others in service who you served with who may have experienced the event or events or who you are in contact with shortly after the stressful event. This may even include letters or e-mails to home that the event occurred. It is a good idea to get as much supportive evidence as possible but remember the standard of proof is still "at least as likely as not."

Rape, Domestic Violence, Harassment, Physical or Sexual Assault

Another type of case which fits under the non-combat in-service stressor category but is treated a little differently is those who suffered from rape, physical assaults, domestic violence, robbery, mugging, stalking, and harassment. Although this type of claim is most commonly associated with female veterans it also occurs in large numbers to male veterans as well. Because of the nature of these crimes it can often be difficult to produce supporting evidence of this type of trauma. So even if your military records do not documenta personal assault you can still show the in-service stressor occurred. Some examples of evidence that can show the in-service stressor occurred in a PTSD claim for compensation are police records, records from mental health or rape crisis centers or other hospitals or physicians. It can also include statements from fellow veterans, family members and even clergy. What can be obtained from these sources that can help your claim is behavioral changes, a request fortransfer to another assignment, an indication that you were performance has declined, treatment for other psychiatric conditions following the alleged event such as depression, social behavioral changes and even substance-abuse. In other words if you can show by supportive evidence that after the assault occurred significant negative effects occurred in your life or you took steps to remove yourself from the situation you can prove your in-service stressor of assault.  The decision makers at the regional office frequently misapply these rules. 

Step 3: Link between current PTSD and in-service stressor

The last requirements to be found service-connected for PTSD and awarded your VA compensation is to show your currently diagnosed PTSD is linked to your in-service stressor by medical evidence. This is usually the easiest of the three steps to prove. One particular problem can occur at this step in the process, and that is if the veteran has also had a traumatic event after service. In this situation, it is extremely important that the doctor who diagnosed you with PTSD state at a minimum that it is "at least as likely as not" that the veterans current PTSD is a result of the traumatic event that occurred in service.

VA Lawyer for PTSD Claim

If you have been denied your VA compensation claim for PTSD or if you feel you are entitled to a higher rating a VA lawyer is now allowed to help you after you get your rating decision (RD) in most cases.  An attorney can do several things to help you win your claim.  They can review your decision for mistakes by the regional office or BVA and write a brief detailing how the VA wrongly decided the case based on the laws and case law.  Lawyers can also evaluate your claim to find any weaknesses in your claim and help the veteran get the evidence needed to improve the claim.  Lawyers can also review the evidence and compare it to the ratings to see if you are entitled to a higher percentage then what you received from the Veterans Administration.  Most attorneys including myself do not charge anything to consult with you about your case and get paid 20% of past due benefits if they are able to win your case or get you a higher percentage.  Call me for a free consultation at 1-877-527-5529.

If you have been denied your VA compensation for PTSD and need help call us at 1-877-527-5529.  We can help you get the benefits you deserve.

We have attempted to provide up to date and accurate information, however the information in this site is not guaranteed. No attorney client relationship exist. The information in this site is not a substitute for consultation with a qualified attorney.
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