Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an mental disorder that is triggered by the occurrence of a traumatic event, and it puts those afflicted with this condition at risk for a number of debilitating physical and mental problems. Due to their experiences in combat, many veterans suffer from PTSD, leading them to apply for veterans’ disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA takes a strict approach in evaluating PTSD claims for service-connection and requires multiple components be met before an award. The veteran must prove that they were exposed to a stressor (such as death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury or actual or threatened sexual violence). Furthermore, the stressor must have been through direct exposure, witnessed first-hand or indirectly (by learning of a close friend or family member was exposed to such trauma), or by repeated or extreme indirect exposure.
Moreover, there are additional factors that must be met, once the stressor is substantiated, including the symptom(s) severity level, duration, and resulting limitations or impact on overall functioning. Note that if the veteran is diagnosed with PTSD while in active military service, the burden of proving the stressor is lower, but other factors are still required and an examination may still be needed to assign the applicable rating. An applicant’s VA disability rating determines the amount of his or her monthly veterans’ disability benefit. The VA rates PTSD using a standardized rating schedule, and it uses the following to determine an applicant’s rating:
- Medical evidence-The applicant will want to put forth evidence confirming a current diagnosis of PTSD from a qualified medical expert who is competent to diagnose their PTSD. A psychiatrist, for example, who either has a treating relationship with the veteran, or at least undertakes a thorough evaluation upon meeting with him or her, may provide a diagnosis to support a veteran’s claim.
- Examination-An applicant will typically meet with a VA psychiatrist for an examination as part of the rating process. The psychiatrist uses this meeting to diagnose the severity of the applicant’s PTSD due to their related symptoms and limitations.
- Personal statement-When a veteran applies for VA disability benefits, a personal statement may be used to give the VA a sense of how the applicant’s PTSD affects his or her daily life. Certain points should be raised in these statements to ensure the appropriate symptoms and limitations are being highlighted for review.
- Supporting statements-An applicant is permitted to submit statements by friends and loved ones that describe the impact that their PTSD has had on his or her life and the related symptoms they observe.
- Symptoms-If a veteran has kept records of his or her PTSD symptoms and how they’ve evolved over time, these materials may be submitted to the VA as additional evidence of the applicant’s condition and can help when evaluating the appropriate rating that will be assigned.
- Work evaluations-Finally, work evaluations may be submitted to help determine a veteran’s disability rating. Evaluations may be completed by a supervisor or coworkers, and they are intended to demonstrate how PTSD impacts the applicant’s ability to work.
Michigan Disability Law Attorneys
The completion and submission of various forms of evidence allows the VA to evaluate the severity of an applicant’s condition such as PTSD, but the process can be difficult to navigate alone. Therefore, if you are a veteran and you would like to receive disability benefits due to PTSD or some other medical condition, the skilled disability law attorneys at Disability Law Group are here to help. We will ensure that your claim is carefully evaluated and, together, we will come up with a plan of obtaining all relevant evidence that could bolster your claim so that you can receive the correct rating and every benefit you deserve.
At Disability Law Group, our experienced Michigan attorneys will be by your side during every step of the process, from guiding you in the application process and answering any questions that come up with the VA to appealing your denial in court, if necessary. From your very first call, and throughout the entire process, our experienced disability law lawyers will provide you with the exceptional service and compassionate treatment you deserve. So, if you live in Macomb County, Oakland County, Wayne County in Michigan, or anywhere else in the United States, and would like to apply for disability benefits or fight a denial, Disability Law Group can help. At Disability Law Group, disability is all we do. Please contact us as soon as possible for a free consultation.