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Challenges of Filing a PTSD Claim with The VA

Laura Thomas Sept. 18, 2018

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can occur following a traumatic event. Tomorrow marks the 17-year anniversary of the terrorist attack against our great nation. This blog aims to aid post-9/11 service members in understanding claims for VA disability compensation for PTSD.

Identifying Stressor Events

A crucial component in any PTSD claim is outlining a specific stressor event that created the trauma. This is often challenging to identify to the United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), as you must produce evidence of the stressor event. The Department of Defense (DoD) keeps records and documentation of combat events, but these files are not available to veterans for stressor event verification.

Combat stressors are sometimes more easily proven, as injuries and other physical proof are often associated with these events. Non-combat stressors, such as witnessing a fellow soldier die, are much more challenging to prove. Under current law, non-combat stressor events must be supported by “credible evidence”. Statements from other witnesses, treatment records, and news clippings are often the most efficient and effective forms of evidence for non-combat stressors.

Timeliness of PTSD Claims

In filing any case or claim, the sooner you file it following the event in which you are filing it for – the better. Recollection of key details can fade over time.

While waiting too long to file a claim is discouraged, even veterans whose PTSD claims were filed and denied in years prior can attempt to reopen claims in the hopes of different results. New evidence would be needed to do so, as previously considered evidence would already have been considered and rejected.

Patience and Persistence

Filing a claim with the VA, whether it be for PTSD or another reason, is a lengthy and arduous process. According to data collected by the VA, as of August 27th of this year- it takes the VA an average of 102.2 days to complete a claim. This process is best navigated by an experienced attorney that has successfully represented veterans before.

Attorney Dustin Crook understands this process, both as a post-9/11 combat veteran and an attorney who has represented such individuals in the VA claims process. To discuss your case in an initial free consultation, call Biesterveld & Crook, LLC or click here.