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Increase in VA Disability Claims for PTSD

By   /  March 3, 2016  /  78 Comments

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The VA disability claims, and benefits paid out, for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are increasing. In 2009, PTSD was the third most common approved VA disability condition for vets from Iraq and Afghanistan, after tinnitus and neck/back strain.

PTSD a common result of combat

Post-traumatic stress disorder is the most common mental health disorder experienced by those in combat. The Disabled American Veterans website put together a good report on this topic. They point out that most all veterans will experience some readjustment issues. It’s important to be aware of what a normal readjustment is, compared to the kind of problems that can benefit from professional help.

For people exposed to traumatic situations, such as military combat, as many as one in five may experience PTSD symptoms. Your symptoms may be immediately visible, or they may simmer under the surface for months or years until they’re triggered by an event.

Filing VA disability claims for PTSD

The first step to getting disability benefits for treatment is to be diagnosed with service-connected PTSD. After filing a claim, and being diagnosed, you will be measured for the level of impairment, from 0% – 100%, depending on how much the condition interferes with normal life functions. VA compensation payments begin at 10% and increase at each rating level.

PTSD symptoms can appear throughout a veteran’s life. They might show up soon after returning from active duty or they could be triggered in vets 15 – 20 years later. They can still appear in Vietnam vets and those aging vets who served in Korea.

In 2010, the Department of Veterans Affairs relaxed its claim requirements for veterans seeking PTSD assistance. The old regulations had made it hard and time-consuming to produce all of the required documentation. In 2011, a group of Iraq and Afghanistan vets won a settlement from the VA for a class-action lawsuit regarding disability benefits for PTSD. The tide is turning towards full recognition of the seriousness of PTSD and the need for veterans to receive proper treatment, as they would for a physical disability.

Better not to delay treatment

It’s never too late to file VA disability claims, but if you’re having PTSD symptoms, it’s better to get treatment right away. Serious stress problems can interfere with your relationships at home and work. Left untreated, they can affect your ability to succeed at work or school and ultimately, your ability to make a living.

Treatment can be a combination of counseling sessions and possibly medication, if needed. Types of counseling can include individual therapy, family therapy, or group therapy – depending on your individual needs.

PTSD often creates stress-related problems, such as alcohol or drug abuse, gambling, or eating disorders. Stress can also create co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression. These problems can be treated at the same time.

Some veterans may need a rehabilitation plan that could include vocational training and temporary financial assistance. There are many benefits available that you should look into, including those available through the disability compensation program.

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78 Comments

  1. ron thomas says:

    I’m Disable veteran 70% I had two different stressors I got stabbed and also had a bad car wreck in the service. How do you file to make each event a separate event? Also is PTSD- Anxiety, Depression separate claims

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Ron,

      There is no reason to file separate claims. Just file claim a disability caused by the two events.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  2. Jennifer says:

    I am a veteran currently receiving 30% for PTSD due to MST. I was raped and then sexually assualted and harrassed daily while in the navy. When I originally went to my C&P, I felt as though the evaulating MD didn’t believe me and didn’t care. He only wrote that I had weekly panic attacks and mild anxiety. In the past year it’s gotten a lot worse including, suicidal ideation, hallucinations, near continous panic attacks, depression, OCD(i clean 8-10 hours a day), violent outbursts, night terrors, and an average of 1-2 hours of sleep a night. I have gone from working full time to 1 day a week because I was calling in so much from the PTSD my work made me cut back. I don’t like to leave the house. I have marirage problems and I like little to no people contact, and I drink heavily. I am always parinoid that someone is going to hurt me and my son so I never leave him. I have been receiving treatment at the VA and they have put me on around 6 different medications. I filed for an increase through the VSO I talked to the C&P evaulater during my increase exam and she couldn’t believe I was rated so low to begin with and informed me that he didn’t put a lot of information on the original evaluation which maybe why it was only 30%. She told me she is going to direct the evaulation around my difficulty keeping a job and inablity to work more than 1 day a week and say it’s gotten worse with the suggestion of an increase. My questions are what would you recommend the VA rate me as with those symptoms and should I appeal it if it’s under a certain amount? If the VA does not increase my disability what should I do next?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jennifer,

      You have a sensitive and complex VA claim. I suggest you contact a VA accredited attorney. A so-qualified attorney can review your case and provide a professional opinion as to the merits of your contentions and how best to perfect evidence and proof of your claim. Without such guidance you will be at the mercy of the VA system.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  3. Kay O'Doherty says:

    I retired in 2012 with a rating of 50% for PTSD, 30% TBI and 20% for Cognitive Dysfunction plus a multitude of 10% for other injuries incurred during combat. They have listed me TEMPORARY. How do I get it switched to PERMANENT? I have been reeval’ed twice since I retired with the same rating being awarded. I have been in and out of counseling before and since I retired. With no significant improvement. How long do they leave you as temporary before moving you to permanent? or can it go on forever? Thank you for your time!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Kay,

      The designation temporary or permanent is an evaluation made by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Think about the difference between a broken leg and an amputated leg. A broken leg is temporary but over time it can lead to complications resulting in a permanent disabling condition. So one has to wait and see what complications, if any, result over a span of years. On the other hand, it is obvious that an amputation is a permanent condition.

      PTSD is not necessarily a permanent condition. It can be treated and relieved over a period of time due to medical treatment. Many service members recover from the effects of service connected medical events.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

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