VA PTSD - Veterans Disability Law
The condition once termed "shell-shock," or Vietnam Veterans Disorder is now commonly known as post-traumatic-stress-disorder-PTSD. Occurring at higher rates than in members of the general public, many military personnel who participated in combat locations may suffer from the condition, as well as anyone who has experienced a traumatic event. Between 11% and 20% of veterans who served in the combat operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have PTSD. Veterans from the Gulf War (Desert Storm) and Vietnam War have similarly high levels of PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious mental condition with symptoms making it difficult for a person to live a normal life.
Veterans should be aware of their eligibility for qualifying with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder disability benefits. Many veterans think they only qualify if they have a physical disability, but this is not true. A mental health disability can be just as unfortunate and terrible as a physical disability. It may be possible to claim VA disability benefits if you have PTSD. The law firm of Wettermark Keith has dealt with many service men and women applying for Veterans Affairs PTSD compensation and can help you too. Our VA disability lawyers have the knowledge and experience to help you get the VA compensation for PTSD that you deserve.
WHAT IS PTSD AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT VETERANS?
According to researchers at the National Center for PTSD, the world's leading VA research study and educational center of excellence on PTSD and traumatic stress, PTSD is a mental health problem suffered by up to 6% of the general American population. PTSD is a mental health condition precipitated by members of the military experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. For veterans, this usually occurs from an occasion that happened while in combat service.
PTSD may cause a veteran to have flashbacks, combative or protective behavior, and react intensely to certain catalysts. PTSD symptoms include feelings or dreams related to the traumatic event, severe anxiety, disturbing and uncontrollable thoughts about the event, mental and/or physical distress, sleeping difficulties, emotional numbness, detachment, and withdrawal. Most people and veterans having a traumatic experience may temporarily struggle to cope and adjust, but they usually improve with time. If the symptoms worsen, last for months or years, and cause problems with everyday functioning, PTSD may be the reason. Effective treatment in a mental health care program after PTSD symptoms develop is critical to reduce symptoms and improve overall health.
WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO GET VETERAN DISABILITY COMPENSATION FOR PTSD?
Before you consider submitting a VA claim for PTSD disability compensation, first research to learn more (see the additional resources below). There are several requirements to meet before you qualify for this type of compensation. If you don't fit the PTSD requirements, you might get denied. Even if you do fit the PTSD requirements, you still might get rejected. You can hire a Wettermark Keith veteran disability attorney to help you with an appeal.
To qualify for this type of VA compensation, you must be officially diagnosed with PTSD by a medical professional. To be diagnosed with PTSD, you need to display several distinct symptoms. The exact symptoms of PTSD differ from person to person. Some symptoms may be more serious than others, depending on the severity of the condition. Another requirement for compensation is that your traumatic event or stressor happened while you were in the service. A stressor can be anything that triggers your PTSD. Stressors are often experienced in combat, where there is extreme violence and chaos. If the stressor occurred before or after your active service, you might not be eligible for compensation. Another prerequisite for this type of compensation is that your PTSD negatively affects your life.
Your PTSD must be severe enough that you no longer function as well as before. PTSD may make it difficult for you to leave the house, maintain employment, and you may have trouble socializing and forming relationships with people. If you meet these requirements, you have a good chance of being compensated and receiving benefits for treatment and care by the VA for this mental disability. There are other things to consider as well.
The VA has a specific definition of a traumatic event. Serious injury, assault, and sexual trauma are types of traumatic events. Being threatened with or witnessing injury, assault, or sexual abuse are also types of trauma. If you fall into any of these trauma categories, the VA may consider you a valid candidate. If you apply for PTSD disability and fit these requirements, you would unlikely be denied benefits and resources for treatment and care.
HOW DOES THE VA RATE DISABILITIES FOR PTSD?
The VA compensates veterans based on their rating of PTSD. VA ratings are assigned to veterans according to the severity of the condition and how much PTSD affects their ability to work and function with everyday aspects of living. The VA rating can also change over time which affects compensation and benefits. The standard PTSD disability ratings are 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, and 100%.
- (0% rating) PTSD with a rating of 0% means the condition is acknowledged, but it does not really interfere with or affect your daily life or work. An official diagnosis is found, but the condition and symptoms may not bother you or inhibit your lifestyle. No medication is needed for this PTSD rating.
- (10% or 30% rating) A 10% or 30% PTSD rating generally indicates good satisfactory functioning, but there may be mild or occasional symptoms. This causes a decrease in work efficiency and the ability to perform job tasks sometimes during stress. Symptoms may include occasional depression, anxiety, panic attacks, sleep issues like nightmares, and mild memory loss. These symptoms are usually managed and controlled with continuous medication and/or therapy.
- (50% rating) Veterans discharged from active service due to PTSD will get automatically assigned a rating of not less than 50%. This is the only time the VA will issue an automatic 50% assignment. This rating is not permanent but remains for six months, and then the VA will retest your condition to see if it is better, worse, or still the same. If you weren't discharged from service due to your PTSD, in order to qualify for a 50% rating, you would need to show your PTSD symptoms are so severe they cause you to be less reliable or less productive, to such a degree that it negatively impacts your job and/or interacting with others. The requirements are very similar to the symptoms required for the 30% rating, but they would be more severe.
- (70% or 100% rating) Severe cases in which a person or veteran has a PTSD rating as high as 70% to 100% are not as common. At 70%, a person has frequent and significant difficulties with normal everyday life and work activities, perhaps because of constant panic attacks. Personal and social relationships are difficult to maintain. A ranking of 100% involves the complete disintegration of a person's normal life. A person or veteran may be unable to perform normal life functions, become socially isolated, and be unfit for employment. Danger to family and others and suicidal thoughts are common.
Veteran PTSD FAQ
Do you still have questions about getting VA disability compensation?
You can find your answers below.
The financial compensation a veteran receives from the VA depends on the severity of the PTSD condition and the disability rating assigned. Monthly monetary compensation rates for veterans range from approximately $166 to $3622 per month for a single veteran with no dependents. For veterans with a spouse, dependent parents, and children, the payment may be as high as $4296 per month.
A veteran needs to be officially diagnosed with PTSD. The PTSD symptoms must be severe enough to affect or inhibit your ability to live a normal life. The VA will verify eligibility by looking for credible evidence to support claims of the traumatic in-service event, such as time in active combat.
The traumatic event or stressor has to have occurred during your active military service or be service connected. A VA PTSD stressor involves exposure to death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence. The exposure can be direct exposure or witnessed in person.
PTSD ratings affect VA compensation and benefits. The following list gives an idea of monthly VA monetary compensation rates for a single veteran (alone with no dependents).
- 0% - no compensation
- 10% - $ 165.92
- 20% - $ 327.99
- 30% - $ 508.05
- 40% - $ 731.86
- 50% - $ 1041.82
- 60% - $ 1319.65
- 70% - $ 1663.06
- 80% - $ 1933.15
- 90% - $ 2172.39
- 100% - $ 3621.95
The VA has additional resources and may compensate a veteran in other ways too. Health care is one of the major benefits you can enjoy. You can also get treatment and therapy for your PTSD, which the VA will cover. All veterans are encouraged to investigate the clinics, vet centers, and treatment services offered by the VA. Vet Centers are staffed by trained family and mental health professionals, like social workers and psychologists, who deal with the particular challenges of combat veterans, like PTSD. These extra benefits from the VA available to veterans are in addition to monetary compensation.
PTSD symptoms can vary from person to person and over time. The four general groups or types of PTSD symptoms are intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.
- Intrusive Memory Symptoms - Having recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event, including flashbacks, upsetting nightmares, emotional distress, and physical reactions due to reminders of the traumatic event.
- Avoidance Symptoms - Avoidance thinking or talking about the traumatic event and avoiding places, people, and/or activities reminiscent of the traumatic event.
- Negative Thinking and Mood Symptoms - Having negative thoughts about yourself, other people, or the world in general, feelings of hopelessness, memory problems which may be related to the traumatic event, difficulty maintaining personal relationships, detachment from family and friends, and the world in general, lack of interest or apathy in once enjoyable activities, depression, phobias, feeling "numb."
- Changes in Physical and Emotional Reactions (Arousal and Reactive Symptoms) - Being easily startled or extremely frightened, being on guard for danger, self-destructive behavior, sleeping issues, trouble concentrating, hypersensitivity, irritability, angry outbursts, anxiety, aggressive behavior, overwhelming feelings of guilt, shame and/or blame.
Veterans qualifying for this type of VA compensation need to be officially diagnosed with PTSD by a medical professional. The VA may conduct a C&P exam with a health screening to determine if the PTSD is related to military service and will assess the severity of the condition to confirm your diagnosis. Your traumatic event or stressor must have happened while you were in the service and caused your PTSD. If the veteran is a combat veteran and the stressor is combat-related, then no additional corroboration of the stressor is necessary. The VA will verify eligibility by looking for credible evidence to support claims of the traumatic in-service event. Veterans must exhibit symptoms of PTSD as well.
WHAT SHOULD A VETERAN DO IF DENIED VA BENEFITS?
The first step to combat declined compensation for PTSD is to file a higher-level review unless there is new evidence to submit, in which case, a supplemental claim would need to be filled. This notice means you are filing an appeal against the VA, but there is a limited time to file. If these options do not work for the veteran, they could file a notice of disagreement to appeal to the board of veterans appeals/BVA. The veteran can then choose to have a hearing with a veteran law judge or "direct review" with no hearing. While there are circumstances where a NOD may be necessary, it should be determined case-by-case. The first step is to determine which lane to choose - Supplemental Claim, Higher Level Review, or Notice of Disagreement. Determining which option is best depends on the situation of each veteran.
Choosing the correct lane can be complicated and confusing and choosing the wrong lane can cause undue delay in your case. This is why it is important to hire an attorney with experience helping veterans to assist you. VA disability attorneys are trained in this field, and Wettermark Keith has lawyers and the resources to aid in this process. Such an attorney can help you with the proper paperwork and make appropriate decisions when appealing a disability case. Having a reputable attorney on your side will more likely result in a positive outcome for you.
WHO CAN HELP WITH A VA DISABILITY CLAIM?
PTSD is a terrible thing to live with and can make you feel hopeless and in constant crisis. It can influence your life in many negative ways. If you suffer from PTSD due to your military service, you deserve compensation from the VA. The VA will consider you eligible if you meet their PTSD disability requirements. If the VA denies your PTSD compensation claim and you question the decision, take legal action with the help of a lawyer. Look no further than the law firm of Wettermark Keith, which has attorneys specialized in VA disability law in several locations in Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee. Contact us today for an overview and free consultation with members of our legal team to learn more. We can discuss your PTSD situation, answer any questions and develop a plan. Our office operates on a no-fee guarantee basis, so you don't pay us unless we win your case. You served our country and then developed medical issues, so now let us serve you.
Veterans Crisis Line Call 988, then press 1 (24/7 - Confidential Crisis Support for Veterans and their families)
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