How To Get Service And Medical Records
Service records and service treatment records may contain credible evidence of a stressor. However, this assumes the stressor incident was reported and documented or the servicemember sought mental health treatment or was forthcoming when asked about psychological issues. Some servicemembers with PTSD seek help from outside health care providers to avoid detection by superiors, which can also be good evidence.
However, even without evidence of medical treatment, the service record itself can be credible evidence of a PTSD stressor. Indicators of a PTSD stressor may be present if there were sudden changes in behavior after the claimed stressor, such as insubordination or discipline. Sudden requests to change the duty station or unit could also serve as evidence of a PTSD stressor.
Service Records Vs Medical Records
One of the first things that the VA does when a Veteran files a claim for PTSD disability is to request medical records. If the Veteran has experienced a traumatic event that may have caused immediate injury or that the Veteran sought out medical or mental health treatment for, it would be present in their medical records. Also, since the onset of the Gulf War, pre- and post-deployment questionnaires address the questions of mental health issues as a course of record. However, again that stigma is present and someone who may not want to be medically discharged or sent back stateside may not seek treatment for mental disorders or tell the truth on forms in order to keep their job and duty station.
So, if there are no medical records or medical evidence, how can someone go about proving that the incident occurred in service? One way is by requesting that the VA review the veterans service records as well as your medical records. By reviewing your military records, there may be what are called markers to PTSD or mental health issues such as sudden disciplinary issues, a sudden drop in performance review scores a request for a change in duty station or different squad, company, or platoon records of going AWOL or other issues such as excessive drinking, dereliction of duty, insubordination, etc. Any types of behaviors that were not present before the incident but become prevalent after may be considered markers of a traumatic event.
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Can I Get Veterans Disability If A Sexual Assault During Service Gave Me Ptsd
Yes, but it may be difficult. In order to collect VA disability for post-traumatic stress disorder , you must be able to prove a link between your current condition and a specific incident during service. Since many in-service physical and sexual assaults are unreported at the time of the incident, it can be hard to gather sufficient records or documentation that could help prove that the assault occurred.
In order to help assault victims get the benefits they deserve, the VA has allowed less strict evidentiary requirements for veterans who are suffering from PTSD after a sexual assault. The veteran must only provide evidence that an assault occurred during his or her military service and that the event has caused symptoms consistent with PTSD. If veterans do not have medical evidence of the incident in their service medical records, they may also provide evidence from other sources, including:
- Pregnancy tests or tests for sexually transmitted diseases taken at outside hospitals or clinics.
- Records from local law enforcement agencies or government authorities.
- Rape crisis centers or mental health counseling centers.
- Evidence of changes in mood or behavior following the incident .
- Statements from witnesses, including fellow service members, family members, roommates, or trusted advisors.
Malingering Causes Real Measurable Problems
What disorder does PTSD fall under? Its a psychiatric disorder that causes biochemical and neuroanatomical changes in the body.
Verified veterans with verified problems have stopped coming to treatment, especially group therapy because they dont want to be associated with the obvious posers.
VA treatment programs cant be measured for effectiveness because almost every patient, whether theyre getting better or not, claims their symptoms are worsening until their rating reaches 100%. According to one study, 82% of those who max out on disability then stop attending treatment.
If their problem is so terrible theyre completely disabled, why suddenly stop getting help?
The VA doesnt want to face this, Dr. Frueh said. Were employing very expensive PTSD treatments which our own stats say are ineffective. From clinical studies outside the VA, we know those programs actually are effective. But within the VA, either these proven programs dont work or patients are skewing the stats by lying about their symptoms. The VA doesnt want to acknowledge that the treatment works, but a huge number of patients are lying.
Dr. Frueh discussed that problem in a 2014 Psychology Today article: Another open secret among clinical trial investigators is that veterans often acknowledge to researchers that the treatment has helped them, but ask them not to document in the record for fear of losing disability.
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Evidence Required To Verify A Non
When considering a veterans PTSD non-combat claim, the VA must verify the stressor. However, it isnt enough to simply confirm that the event occurred. The VA must also confirm that the veteran was present and witnessed the event in some manner. This is accomplished via the submission of evidence which may come in a plethora of formats and from various sources.
What Happens After Va Grants Service Connection For Ptsd
Once a veteran establishes service connection for their PTSD claim, the battle isnt over. The veteran must do what he can to make sure the VA gives him the correct compensation.
Compensation is based on the rating VA assigns a veteran . This rating is based on how severe the veterans PTSD symptoms are.
Because the ratings are based on the veterans symptoms, its important to have medical records. These records should detail the symptoms the veteran suffers, and how they affect the veterans life.
Again, this is another area where having medical opinions is crucial to building a strong case. The max rating is 100%, but this is hard to get. A lot of veterans end up with a 70% rating and unemployability because they cannot work.
The VA will use a C& P exam to help them determine what the appropriate rating is. A veteran should review the PTSD rating criteria that VA uses. The veteran should discuss with family and friends how they see PTSD affecting the veteran. This will give the veteran evidence he needs to assure the C& P examiner as a full picture of his problems.
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Service Connection For Ptsd: What Va Requirements Do Veterans Need To Satisfy
For the VA to grant service connection for PTSD, a veteran must demonstrate that he or she has been diagnosed with PTSD under the DSM 5, his or her PTSD is a result of an in-service stressor that meets the DSM 5s A criterion, and his or her in-service stressor at least as likely as not occurred. Lets break down each of these three criteria in detail.
Pursuant to 38 CFR 3.304, service connection for PTSD requires medical evidence diagnosing the condition in accordance with 38 CFR 4.125, which calls for a diagnosis that conforms to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition . Under the DSM 5, a veterans mental health symptomatology must meet all of the following criteria in order for a clinician to diagnose him or her with PTSD:
- Criterion A : The person was exposed to: death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence, in the following way:
- Direct exposure
- Witnessing the trauma
- Learning that a relative or close friend was exposed to a trauma
- Indirect exposure to aversive details of the trauma, usually in the course of professional duties
The General Rule For Verifying Ptsd Stressors
If PTSD is not diagnosed in service, is not due to a fear of hostile military or terrorist activity as reported by a psychiatrist or psychologist, is not due to a stressor that occurred while the veteran was engaged in combat, and/or combat service is disputed by the VA, then the VA will look for additional evidence to verify the reported in-service stressor. In such cases, corroborating evidence other than the veterans own lay statement is necessary to establish that the in-service PTSD stressor occurred. There is a wide range of traumatic events, or groups of events, that may qualify as stressors for a PTSD claim. However, there is no requirement that the corroborating evidence supporting the occurrence of the stressor be found in military service records. Credible supporting evidence from any source may fulfill this requirement.
For instance, the VA is required to consider buddy statements or any other evidence that supports the occurrence of an in-service stressor, and in some circumstances such lay evidence from other individuals may alone suffice. Likewise, old newspaper articles or documents from a veterans unit may also be helpful evidence in establishing the occurrence of a PTSD stressor.
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Records To Have Available
It can help to have both military records and records of your own communications to help jog your memory. You can request a copy of personnel records and service medical records from the military, and these records will help you remember dates and other details of what happened. Read Nolo’s article about how to obtain your records.
Ask friends and family members for any letters you sent them while in the service, and check your email account for any messages you sent describing what you experienced. If you keep a diary, it can be helpful to refer to it.
Gather Evidence A Diagnosis And A Nexus Letter
Do you think your acid reflux symptoms stem from PTSD, PTSD medication, or another direct service connection disability? You can then apply for an increased VA rating.
First, you need to gather evidence of your secondary service connection. Youll first want to get a formal diagnosis for GERD from your physician.
Your doctor should also provide a medical opinion that your acid reflux is due to PTSD symptoms, medication, or another direct service disability.
Sometimes, the VA might ask for additional evidence. This includes statements from family or friends about your GERD symptoms and when they began. A personal statement may also help determine your rating.
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Can Someone Fake Ptsd
by Dr. Carlo
Yes, some of the PTSD symptoms can be faked. However, the physical symptoms of PTSD are difficult to fake, as the physical symptoms are outside your voluntary control. The physical symptoms are manifestations of the activation of the sympathetic nervous system and the release of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol, which is the fight or flight response.
Sadly, there are people who fake having PTSD for personal gain, to obtain disability benefits from the military, Social Security, or the employer. This takes away from those people who actually have PTSD and are genuinely disabled by it. But because psychiatry has no biological markers to confirm clinical diagnoses like PTSD, there are some people who can fake the symptoms and be labelled with PTSD, and possibly even get disability from this misdiagnosis. How does this happen with a psychiatric assessment? These misdiagnoses occur all the time, as many of the symptoms for the DSM checklists can be obtained from the patients own words and clinical history.
In PTSD, there are three main categories of symptoms: re-experiencing of the traumatic event, avoidance of reminders of the trauma, and hyperarousal symptoms. It is easy to fake the re-experiencing and avoidant symptoms, as these symptoms can come from the patients own account of them from their clinical history, fabricated or not:
Five Reasons It Is A Challenge To Get The Right Va Ptsd Rating
1) Veterans facing the limitations of PTSD condition are already at their mental limits, meaning it is next to impossible to keep track of the VA red-tape and evidence needed to establish the right VA PTSD rating.
2) PTSD is a latent condition meaning it doesnt always arise on the battlefield. My own grandfather didnt experience this condition it was known as shellshock until years after he fought at the Battle of the Bulge. Because it often arrives later in life after service, it can be hard to convince the VA to service connect PTSD, no less give you the correct VA PTSD rating.
3) The VA regulations governing VA PTSD ratings and PTSD claims are rewritten frequently.
Many of these rewrites are pitched as being Vet Friendly or liberalizing rules to make the process easier. When they are put into practice, it turns out that new VA PTSD rating or service connection rules or regulations make the claims harder and are anti-veteran.
4) The VA has created a bottleneck in VA PTSD claims, by finding PTSD cannot be service-connected until a doctor whose bread is buttered by the VA concludes that there is the requisite nexus.This can dramatically delay the amount of time it takes you to get the appropriate VA PTSD rating.
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Ready To Make A Claim 3 Steps To Presenting A Strong Va Ptsd Claim
Now that you know how the VA rates PTSD, its important to understand some best practices for making a claim. Keep in mind that PTSD claims can complicate the already confusing and murky claims process. Even with the new regulations passed in 2010 that make it easier for veterans with PTSD to qualify for VA benefits, a veteran with a PTSD claim will face unique challenges.
So, you can make a strong claim by presenting these three requirements.
Individual Unemployability Benefits & Your Ptsd Claim
Veterans that cant work because of severe PTSD may be eligible for Total Disability Individual Unemployability benefits. The VA will consider not just your PTSD but other mental and physical conditions too. PTSD Individual Unemployability benefits pay the same as a 100% rating. However, you are not required to obtain a 100% rating to be eligible. Eligibility will depend upon your rating and how much your service-connected disabilities prevent you from working.
Veterans that cant work from PTSD may be eligible for both Individual Unemployability and Social Security Disability. Remember, both benefits are completely separate from each other. Each benefit system has different eligibility guidelines. It is possible to be approved for one benefit and denied the other benefit. They each require different evidence as well.
If you cant work from your PTSD, talk to the Individual Unemployability lawyers at Woods & Woods. Our law firm has handled thousands of PTSD claims for veterans that cant work. Our law firm fights for veterans that cant work from PTSD every day.
In this video, a VA disability attorney explains how veterans with PTSD can obtain Individual Unemployability:
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What Is A Secondary Service Connection
When determining disability ratings, the VA differentiates between direct and secondary service connections.
Direct service connections are conditions caused by an event during your service. PTSD caused by the trauma you experienced while on active duty is a direct service connection. A tank driving over your foot is a direct service connection.
A secondary service connection is a condition that develops because of the direct service connection. Your knee and lower back pain that happened due to the altered gait of your broken foot is a secondary condition.
The VA considers PTSD and GERD secondary to sleep apnea. Also, erectile dysfunction and diverticulitis are secondary to PTSD.
Theres even a growing body of evidence that GERD has a secondary service connection because hiatal hernia is secondary to PTSD.
Why? Many people diagnosed with PTSD also have PTSD secondary conditions. These disabilities are either caused or exacerbated by PTSD or medications taken for PTSD symptoms.
How Does That Compare To A 50 Or 70 Percent Rating For Ptsd
While the criteria for a 50 or 70 percent rating is still pretty high, it is much less than the 100 percent rating. The 70 percent PTSD rating talks about occupational and social impairment, with deficiencies in most areas At the 50 percent level, the definition reads, occupational and social impairment, with reduced productivity and reliability due to such symptoms as
Both the 50 and 70 percent level go on to list examples of symptoms that might qualify you for these ratings. But, the big difference is that we go from total occupational and social impairment to essentially partial impairment.
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Faking Ptsd And Va Disability Fraud
If our suspicions about PTSD fakers were confirmed, it would be depressing.
Know what would be even more depressing? Being told by two VA psychologists that the system is even more corrupt and full of liars, scammers, and thieves than we thought.
Not long ago I wrote an article about two combat vets and their attempts to paint veterans as pitiful victims of PTSD. A VA psychologist read the article and contacted me. He cant speak publicly because he still works at a large VA center, but I verified his identity and work. Ill call him John.
John has treated over 700 veterans for PTSD. He estimates 75% of his patients are either outright fabricating trauma, or twisting benign experiences into supposed trauma in order to qualify for disability benefits. Of all patients referred to me in 2015 for PTSD evaluation, 25% had a real trauma-related condition, John wrote. And the majority of the remainder were obviously feigning PTSD symptoms.
Few of Johns patients were actual combat veterans. Only 10% had documentation indicating substantial combat exposure, John said. Yet just over half were receiving VA disability payments for PTSD. All who werent yet on disability for PTSD were applying for it, and most on disability were appealing to increase their disability rating.