Veterans' Disability Compensation for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Posted on behalf of The Nye Law Group on May 02, 2017 in Veterans' Benefits

veteran consulting doctorPost-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the most common mental health issue experienced by veterans of the United States Armed Forces when they return home from combat.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after a service member experiences a traumatic event, also known as a stressor, in which:

  • The service member was at risk of dying
  • The service member witnessed another person die or suffer a severe injury
  • The service member was raped or sexually harassed

In some cases, the service member begins experiencing PTSD soon after the traumatic event. In other cases, PTSD takes months or years to begin affecting a veteran.  

Common symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Feelings of intense horror, helplessness or fear
  • Feeling emotionally numb, detached, depressed or disinterested in normal activities
  • Persistent thoughts and nightmares about the event
  • Replaying or re-living the event again and again
  • Constantly watching for danger
  • Avoiding situations that could trigger symptoms
  • Not discussing the event with anyone

Who Qualifies for PTSD Benefits?

If you are a U.S. veteran who suffers from PTSD due to a traumatic event during your military service, you may be eligible for veteran's disability benefits.

However, you will not qualify for benefits unless you can prove three things, according to 38 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §3.304(f):

Credible Evidence that the Stressor Occurred

As long as there is no clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, and the stressor in question is consistent with the circumstances, conditions or hardships of your service, the only credible evidence you need is your personal testimony.  

This applies to most situations, including those where you were engaged in combat with the enemy, you were a prisoner of war or you were fearful of hostile military or terrorist activity.

However, if your claim is based on an assault that occurred during your service, you may need more evidence, which could include:

  • Service records
  • Records from law enforcement, rape crisis centers, hospitals or mental health centers
  • Statements from roommates, service members, clergy or family members

These pieces of evidence may be used to show behavior changes after the alleged assault. Behavior changes that would be considered credible evidence of a stressor include:

  • Request for a transfer to another assignment
  • Deteriorating work performance
  • Substance abuse
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety

In some cases, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will submit evidence it receives to an appropriate medical or mental health professional for an opinion about whether the alleged assault actually occurred.

Other stressors that require corroboration beyond your testimony include:

  • Plane crashes caused by severe weather
  • Severe motor vehicle accidents
  • Witnessing death, injury or threat of injury or death to another person caused by something other than hostile military or terrorist activity

Medical Evidence of PTSD

You need credible medical evidence that you have PTSD. Your diagnosis must conform to the requirements in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).

Evidence of a Service Connection

You also need medical evidence showing that the stressor is connected to your service and is the primary cause of your condition and not a preexisting medical issue or another event that was unrelated to your service.

Evidence could include:

  • Service records
  • Evidence of your military occupation
  • Records for hazard pay
  • Service treatment records
  • Military performance reports
  • Monthly summaries and morning reports
  • Verification that you received combat/imminent danger/hostile fire pay

Applying for Veterans' Disability for PTSD

You can apply online through the eBenefits website or by completing VA Form 21-526 and submitting it to the nearest VA regional office.

You will need to include:

  • DD214 Certificate of Release of Discharge from Active Duty or separation papers from your periods of service.
  • Medical records, including the mental health evaluation performed at a VA facility

You may also want to include Form 21-4138 Statement in Support of a Claim, detailing your personal narrative of the events that triggered your PTSD symptoms. Accounts of family and friends who have witnessed the impact of your PTSD may also be included.

If you are a veteran who is suffering from PTSD related to your service, you may be entitled to various forms of disability compensation. The Nye Law Group will see you through the claims process, working to secure all of the benefits you are entitled.

Call 855-856-4212 or complete our Free Case Evaluation form now.

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The personal injury lawyers at The Nye Law Group have a strong reputation of standing up for the rights of those who have been injured throughout Georgia and South Carolina.

We are committed to fighting for justice and compensation for injury victims who have suffered because of another’s negligence in auto accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse and many other situations.

We offer personal injury victims a free consultation to discuss their legal options. YOU OWE US NOTHING UNLESS WE RECOVER COMPENSATION FOR YOU.

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