Veterans Disability Benefits for Service-Related PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly known as PTSD, was long ignored and then misunderstood by the medical community, the general population and the military establishment.
PTSD is a recognized medical condition with psychological, emotional and physical symptoms. It is also recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs as a qualifying impairment for veterans disability benefits. Unfortunately, many veterans coping with PTSD still run into roadblocks in obtaining the benefits and treatment they need.
The VA claims attorneys of the Berry Law Firm have extensive experience with PTSD claims. We have helped veterans nationwide appeal denied VA claims or appeal low disability ratings after assessment for PTSD. Contact our office for a free consultation.
What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
PTSD is generally classified as a psychiatric disorder. It occurs after a person has experienced a shocking or life-threatening event such as military combat, natural disasters, violent personal attacks (such as rape) or a serious accident. Most people recover from the traumatic experience with time. However, some people continue to suffer from stress from the event, and the stress increases over time. The person may suffer from flashbacks or "reliving" by vivid remembering of the event. The person may suffer from nightmares or insomnia, or feel detached or estranged from family and friends. These symptoms can be severe enough, and last long enough, to significantly impair the person's daily life.
Some people experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress immediately or soon after the event. Other veterans do not show symptoms until months or years later, when they are separated, discharged or retired from military duty. Those who do experience symptoms while on active duty may not seek help because they worry a diagnosis will prematurely end their military career.
The Berry Law Firm has handled PTSD from combat injuries such as explosions, gunshot wounds or other wartime events. We have also represented veterans in non-combat PTSD claims arising from peacetime events such as an assault, a vehicle accident or training accident. Some studies report that female veterans have a higher incidence of PTSD, including physical or sexual assault at the hands of fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines.
We work with veterans and doctors to verify a diagnosis of PTSD and to understand all the ways that it hampers daily living. Post-traumatic stress does not have to be completely incapacitating to qualify for VA compensation. It is rated on a scale of 10 percent to 100 percent disability, and compensated accordingly. Veterans who are unable to hold down a job because of the combined effects of PTSD may qualify for total disability (TDIU) benefits.
Veterans Serving Veterans
Several of our lawyers and staff have served in the military. Founding attorney John Stevens Berry Sr. and his son and partner, John S. Berry Jr., are combat veterans who understand the tensions and trauma of war and the ever-present dangers of deployment and military service in general.
The Berry Law Firm provides compassionate support and aggressively fights for the rights of clients who have served and sacrificed for their country. Arrange a free consultation with our national post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) claims attorneys at 888-822-7079 or contact us online.
Read More About PTSD
It is impossible to do justice to a topic as important and as complicated as PTSD in a short article. Hopefully the following information will provide the reader a gateway to other information on this serious medical condition.
PTSD is not a new medical problem. Historical records reflect the condition to have existed for centuries. Medical literature began to discuss it in the United States after the Civil War. World War II and the Holocaust brought it into a better focus for scientific research. However, not until after the Vietnam War did it receive the attention it deserved.
PTSD is found with the same symptoms in military veterans deployed in war zones regardless of their nationality. For instance, Australian veterans share the same symptoms American veterans do. It is not simply a cultural problem, but a biological one suffered by people of all backgrounds. It is also not unique to military veterans. It is believed up to 8 percent of the American civilian population suffers from PTSD. It is just more prevalent in military veterans based upon the veteran's exposure to traumatic events.
How does PTSD develop?
Almost everyone exposed to a traumatic event suffers from some of the symptoms of PTSD in the days and weeks following the event. It is normal, and probably healthy to do so. It is a mechanism by which the body and mind adjust to the trauma and process the memory of it. However, when the body cannot adjust to the experience and let it resolve in the person's memory, it can develop into PTSD. Medical research shows approximately 8 percent of men and approximately 20 percent of women develop PTSD. Of these, approximately three out of 10 people will develop a lifelong chronic problem with PTSD.
How do you test for PTSD?
The process of testing for PTSD, also called "assessing," is normally a multi-phased approach. Structured interviews by medically and psychologically trained professionals are combined with questionnaires to form a blended psychological assessment. The process is set up to reduce the risk of a patient either exaggerating or denying his or her symptoms. It is a highly specialized field of diagnostic skill.
How common is PTSD?
Approximately 8 percent of the American population will experience PTSD during their lifetime. At any one time, almost 4 percent of the American population is suffering from it. This is a small percentage of the total population, and an even small percentage of those people who have suffered a traumatic experience. Approximately 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women have experienced at least one traumatic event in their life. However, to those who suffer from it, it can be as serious of a disease as anything they may ever experience.
Approximately three out of 10 combat veterans — veterans who have served in a war zone in any capacity — experience PTSD. Another two to three veterans will suffer from partial PTSD sometime throughout their life. For instance, more than half of the returning Vietnamese war veterans experienced "clinically serious stress reaction symptoms." Returning Gulf War veterans are suffering from it at an estimated ratio of one in 10. However, this is an initial estimate that may very well increase as the veterans age, and more are returned home from the most recent conflicts.
Who develops PTSD?
There is no specific answer. There are only statistical ranges. PTSD may strike anyone. It is unique to the traumatic event that triggers the PTSD, the person who suffers the event, and the social and cultural situation involved in both the event and the aftermath of the event.
The key is it is not a moral failing or a weakness. It simply is a very real medical condition.
Consequences of PTSD?
PTSD is more than a mental condition. It affects the biological makeup of the body. It is most often seen in changes in the biological processes of a person's memory, as well as his or her fear response. This is also seen in a heightened sensitivity of the startle reflex, as well as sleep abnormalities. Neurobiological changes occur in hormones.
PTSD is associated with other problems. These problems range from alcohol abuse, to drug addiction, to major depression and conduct problems. This affects the sufferers' ability for social and family relationships, as well as their ability to hold stable employment, and often causes problems that result in involvement with the criminal justice system.
PTSD commonly causes headaches, gastrointestinal complaints, immune system problems, dizziness, chest pain and discomfort throughout the body. Unfortunately, often these physical symptoms are treated with PTSD being diagnosed.
The treatment with the best proven results is actually made up of two components. The first is a form or fashion of therapy. The second is prescribed medications. Therapy may take many different forms. It may range from one-on-one counseling to group discussions. The therapy may include cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure therapy. The principal drugs prescribed for the condition are SSRI [selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors] such as Prozac and Zoloft.
To its credit, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, once a barrier to finding help for PTSD sufferers, is a major proponent of ongoing scientific and medical research. It operates the National Center for PTSD, which coordinates the exchange and flow of information related to PTSD, as well as promotes the need for ongoing research. The National Center for PTSD website ( http://www.ncptsd.va.gov) is an excellent resource.
The knowledgeable attorneys of Berry Law Firm are also glad to address your PTSD questions as they related to disability claims. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.