The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has published a new rule that will change the type of evidence that certain veterans will need to provide to the VA to establish a claim for VA benefits due to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is a condition that is triggered by a stressful event that causes an individual to receive harm or be threatened with serious harm or death. Examples of stressful events, which are known as stressors, include combat, natural disasters or a personal or sexual assault. Some of the symptoms of PTSD include uncontrolled anger, flashbacks, and irritability. People who have PTSD may be unable to work or successfully engage in relationships with other individuals.
Under the new rule, veterans who are filing a claim for benefits as the result of PTSD will not need to provide corroborating evidence of a claimed stressor when it is claimed that the stressor is “related to the veteran’s fear of hostile military or terrorist activity.” Instead, a veteran’s statement is sufficient to establish the stressor. A VA psychiatrist or psychologist, including those who are providing services to the VA under contract, must determine that the stressor is “adequate to support a diagnosis of [PTSD] and that the veteran’s symptoms are related to the claimed stressor.” The stressor must also be “consistent with the places, types, and circumstances of the veteran’s service.”
The rule applies to veterans of all eras and involves claims for PTSD that are received on or after July 13, 2010. Veterans who have already filed claims for VA benefits due to PTSD but whose claims have not yet been decided by a VA regional office or, if in appellate status, have not yet been decided by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals will also have their claims adjudicated under the new rule. Claims that have been remanded for re-adjudication by the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims will also be reviewed based on the new rule.
VetsFirst supports the VA’s efforts to simplify the evidentiary burden for PTSD claims but believes that more needs to be done. Specifically, VetsFirst believes that private psychiatrists and psychologists should be able to make the determination required under the rule. VetsFirst will continue to monitor the implementation of this rule and work with Congress and the VA to further simplify and streamline the benefits process for our nation’s veterans.
Category: Health Care & Benefits