After witnessing or experiencing a traumatic or life-threatening event such as war, a natural disaster, car accident, or sexual assault, people commonly have reactions such as upsetting memories of the event such as intrusive thoughts or trouble sleeping.
If these symptoms do not go away, or if they get worse, you may develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). What is important for Veterans to know is that VA provides healthcare and disability compensation for Veterans with PTSD.
Serious symptoms of PTSD include re-experiencing the traumatic event or flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, hyper vigilance, irritability, and isolation from friends and family. PTSD may manifest in the form of other mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression years or decades later.
PTSD is often prevalent in Veterans who were in combat or deployed to a war zone during their military service. For example, VA estimated that about 30 percent of Vietnam War Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime.
As a result of their serious symptoms, many veterans with PTSD experience difficulty functioning in an occupational environment. PTSD often impacts job performance or the ability to work. VA offers treatment at Vet Centers and Medical Centers. Treatment at a Vet Center is free and service connection (VA disability compensation) is not required..
In addition to medical care, VA provides disability compensation for Veterans with PTSD. VA significantly expanded disability benefits for Veterans with PTSD in July 2010 based on decades of scientific research. In July 2010, “VA reduced the evidence needed if the trauma claimed by a Veteran is related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity and is consistent with the places, types, and circumstances of the Veteran’s service.”
However, many Veterans remain unaware of this major change, and VA often makes mistakes when deciding a Veteran’s PTSD claims, often denying the Veteran’s claim or granting the Veteran a low rating. In many cases, Individual Unemployability can increase a Veteran’s rating up to the 100 percent level
Understanding VA’s complex and changing rules for PTSD claims and then submitting all of the paperwork in a timely manner can be a challenge, especially because there is a mental health condition and associated psychological trauma.
Bergmann & Moore has helped hundreds of Veterans win their PTSD benefits because our staff knows the VA claims system well and we are trained to listen and care.
Bergmann & Moore remains dedicated to helping veterans obtain benefits from VA. If you filed a claim for PTSD that was denied by VA, or if you believe you should have a higher PTSD, depression, or anxiety rating from VA, then Bergmann & Moore may be able to assist you with this type of complex claim appeal.
Please contact Bergmann & Moore for a FREE consultation.
Agent Orange Exposure
One specific disease, Glioblastoma Multiforme, is a type of malignant brain tumor, often found in veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during service. However, VA has not yet acknowledged that these tumors are due to Agent Orange exposure and therefore they are not on VA’s presumptive list. Sadly, when a veteran passes away from a non-presumptive condition such as Glioblastoma, their surviving spouse is often unable to obtain benefits on their own.
Burn Pit Exposure
Bergmann & Moore recognizes that many veterans from the Gulf War era, Operating Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation New Dawn (OND), and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS) may have been exposed to hazardous materials that were burned as a form of waste management.
The Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) provides Veterans with five options on what to do when you receive a Board denial. In our experience there is only ONE reasonable option—appeal the BVA decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals to Veterans Claims (CAVC).
Dependency and Indemnity Claims
In the event a veteran passes away, their surviving family members may be entitled to benefits from the VA. Most commonly, this would be the Veteran’s surviving spouse. In order to qualify for DIC benefits, the surviving spouse must show that the Veteran died from a condition or illness related to the veteran’s military service. In some cases, veterans may have already been service connected for the condition that caused their death. In other cases, the surviving spouse is required to prove that the cause of death, if not already service-connected, was due to the veteran’s service.
Even veterans who aren’t rated 100-percent disabled may be eligible to be paid at the 100-percent monetary rate. VA awards individual unemployability, often referred to as total disability for individual unemployability (TDIU), when a veteran’s service connected conditions prohibit him or her from maintaining gainful employment. This benefit is separate from Social Security Disability Income.
Military Sexual Trauma
Military sexual assaults occur with both men and women and often go unreported. Many Veterans believe they do not qualify for Veterans’ benefits for military sexual trauma if they did not report the assault when it happened, but that is not true. There is no time limit for a Veteran to file a claim for a military sexual trauma, even if it is decades later.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), also referred to as posttraumatic stress or posttraumatic stress syndrome, is caused by experiencing a traumatic event. Even though the event has passed, many people continue to experience symptoms for months or even years afterward.
Once VA grants service connection for a disability, they then assign a rating based on the severity of the condition. The rating assigned correlates with a monetary amount to be paid monthly. In most cases, the veteran is compensated retroactively back to the effective date of the claim. This means that VA must pay the monthly amount for the disability for each month the claim was open, usually awarded in a lump sum, in addition to the monthly benefits going forward.
Veterans who were injured while in the military, or who aggravated those injuries while in the military, may be eligible for disability compensation. In some cases, compensation claims injuries are immediately obvious, such as when a service member is physically injured while on active duty. Other times, veterans don’t experience symptoms until many years after service, such as in the form of a mental health condition or cancer due to exposure of hazardous materials like Agent Orange, Burn Pits, or Asbestos.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
If a veteran sustains a head injury or full body injury during their military service, there may be longstanding effects known as residuals of a traumatic brain injury. Many veterans are unaware that they’ve even sustained a TBI because they didn’t lose consciousness during the event. Anything from a mild concussion to being thrown in an explosion may constitute a TBI.