Our VA disability lawyers in Kalamazoo, MI have experience helping veterans prove the existence and extent of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If your claim for VA disability benefits has been denied, it’s time to request a consultation with one of our accredited VA attorneys.
While PTSD can’t be physically seen, this doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect your quality of life. We can help you gather the evidence you need to present a strong case to the VA. That way, you’ll be able to appeal the initial decision and stand a better chance of receiving VA disability benefits for PTSD.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
You are at risk forif you experienced or witnessed a traumatic event during your military service. A traumatic event is something frightening that you experience, hear about, or witness that induces fear for your physical safety. Typical traumatic events include combat exposure or time spent in a hostile environment, sexual and physical abuse, natural disasters, and serious accidents like automobile wrecks.
Before we fully understood PTSD, it was referred to as shell-shock, irritable heart, combat exhaustion, stress response syndrome, soldier’s heart, and hysteria. Today, post-traumatic stress disorder is a psychiatric disorder recognized by the VA as a service-connected condition. If you’ve been wrongly denied VA disability benefits for PTSD, call our lawyers as soon as possible to represent your case. Our lawyers for veterans can help you receive the VA disability benefits you deserve.
What are PTSD Symptoms?
Some of the most common PTSD symptoms include:
- Reliving the event through nightmares, bad memories, or flashbacks
- Avoiding situations and stimuli that remind you of the event such as crowds, people, television, and other forms of entertainment
- Having negative thoughts, feelings, and beliefs (e.g. guilt, shame, or fear)
- Losing interest in activities or people you once enjoyed
- Feeling on edge, anxious, or hypervigilant
PTSD symptoms can often lead to other problems such as alcoholism, pain, employment difficulties, social withdrawal, relationship problems, anxiety, and depression.
What is Required to Obtain Service-Connection for PTSD?
This is a loaded question. PTSD is arguably the VA’s most complex condition to seek compensation for and involves very specific things that must be in the evidentiary record. In 2010, the evidentiary standards were reduced for veterans seekingto help streamline the process. While this was a move in the right direction, the PTSD application process still remains daunting and confusing.
In order to receive VA benefits for PTSD, you must demonstrate: (1) a current diagnosis of PTSD, (2) evidence of an in-service stressor, and (3) medical evidence demonstrating a nexus (causation) between your current symptoms and the in-service stressor.
(1) Current Diagnosis of PTSD
The diagnosis must be from a licensed psychiatrist, certain VA psychologists, or a private psychologist holding a Ph.D. in psychology or a related field of study.
(2) Evidence of an In-Service Stressor
To determine if you have a stressor, the VA will first look to your DD-214 to see if you “engaged in combat with the enemy.” This qualifies as an in-service stressor. When a veteran has any of the combat decorations listed below, the VA will presume the veteran engaged in combat with the enemy, unless there is clear and convincing evidence to the contrary:
- Air Force Achievement Medal with “V” Device
- Air Force Combat Action Medal
- Air Force Commendation Medal with “V” Device
- Air Force Cross
- Air Medal with “V” Device
- Army Commendation Medal with “V” Device
- Bronze Star Medal with “V” Device
- Combat Action Badge
- Combat Action Ribbon (Note: Prior to February 1969, the Navy Achievement Medal with “V” Device was awarded.)
- Combat Aircrew Insignia
- Combat Infantry/Infantryman Badge
- Combat Medical Badge
- Distinguished Flying Cross
- Distinguished Service Cross
- Joint Service Commendation Medal with “V” Device
- Medal of Honor
- Navy Commendation Medal with “V” Device
- Navy Cross
- Purple Heart
- Silver Star
If you did not receive one of the above decorations, it is still possible to demonstrate that you engaged in combat. Other medals such as the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and Iraq Campaign Medal can support a claim that you “engaged in combat.” However, more evidentiary development will be necessary.
Engaging in combat with the enemy isn’t the only way to demonstrate an in-service stressor. Other in-service traumatic events such as sexual and physical abuse, natural disasters, serious accidents like automobile wrecks, and instances of military sexual trauma can also qualify for purposes of establishing a diagnosis of PTSD.
(3) Medical Evidence Demonstrating a Nexus (Causation) Between Your Current Symptoms and the In-Service Stressor
During your medical examination, the examiner will determine whether there is a nexus (link) between your current condition and the claimed in-service stressor. It is essential that you obtain a medical statement demonstrating this nexus from either a licensed psychiatrist, certain VA psychologists, or a private psychologist holding a Ph.D. in psychology or a related field of study. If you have a current diagnosis, an in-service stressor, and a nexus exists, service-connection for PTSD should be awarded.
What is Military Sexual Trauma?
Many veterans experienced sexual trauma while serving. The VA refers to these traumatic events as “Military Sexual Trauma” (MST), which is defined as sexual assault (including rape) or repetitive, threatening sexual harassment. Military Sexual Trauma is a qualifying stressor for the purpose of establishing a diagnosis of PTSD. You are eligible for VA disability compensation if: (1) you had a Military Sexual Trauma while on active duty, (2) you are currently diagnosed with a mental or physical disability, and (3) the disability is caused by the Military Sexual Trauma.
Our lawyers for veterans can help you appeal the decision made by the VA to deny your VA disability benefits for PTSD. To request a consultation with one of our VA disability lawyers in Kalamazoo, MI, call the VA Disability Group at 1-844-VET-LAWS (1-844-838-5297).