Military Sexual Trauma survivors may be eligible to receive VA compensation for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) If service connection is granted, you will be assigned a percentage of disability ranging from 0% to 100%. VA compensation may be awarded even if you did not report the assault or if your perpetrator was never prosecuted. There is no time limit to file a claim however the sooner that you can file a disability claim the greater your chance of receiving one is because . Ideally within the first year of discharge.
100% Total occupational and social impairment, due to such symptoms as: gross impairment in thought processes or communication; persistent delusions or hallucinations; grossly inappropriate behavior; persistent danger of hurting self or others; intermittent inability to perform activities of daily living (including maintenance of minimal personal hygiene); disorientation to time or place; memory loss for names of close relatives, own occupation, or own name.
70% – Occupational and social impairment, with deficiencies in most areas, such as work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood, due to such symptoms as: suicidal ideation; obsessional rituals which interfere with routine activities; speech intermittently illogical, obscure, or irrelevant; near-continuous panic or depression affecting the ability to function independently, appropriately and effectively; impaired impulse control (such as unprovoked irritability with periods of violence); spatial disorientation; neglect of personal appearance and hygiene; difficulty in adapting to stressful circumstances (including work or a work like setting); inability to establish and maintain effective relationships.
50% – Occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity due to such symptoms as: flattened affect; circumstantial, circumlocutory, or stereotyped speech; panic attacks more than once a week; difficulty in understanding complex commands; impairment of short- and long-term memory (e.g., retention of only highly learned material, forgetting to complete tasks); impaired judgment; impaired abstract thinking; disturbances of motivation and mood; difficulty in establishing and maintaining effective work and social relationships.
30% – Occupational and social impairment with occasional decrease in work efficiency and intermittent periods of inability to perform occupational tasks (although generally functioning satisfactorily, with routine behavior, self-care, and conversation normal), due to such symptoms as: depressed mood, anxiety, suspiciousness, panic attacks (weekly or less often), chronic sleep impairment, mild memory loss (such as forgetting names, directions, recent events)
10% – Occupational and social impairment due to mild or transient symptoms which decrease work efficiency and ability to perform occupational tasks only during periods of significant stress, or; symptoms controlled by continuous medication.
0% – A mental conditional has been formally diagnosed, but symptoms are not severe enough either to interfere with occupational and social functioning or to require continuous medication.
more on VA compensation for PTSD/MST: http://www.legion.org/veterans/affairs/ptsd
Were you discharge based on a Personality or Adjustment disorder?
The majority of Military Sexual Trauma survivors are discharged on personality or adjustment disorder. Currently the VA does not compensate someone with adjustment and/or personality disorder. If you were discharged as a result of personality or adjustment disorder and you disagree with the diagnoses only the VA can officially change your diagnoses. Misdiagnosing survivors of MST is a very common practice and the VA is aware of it which is why the VA is starting to re-evaluate veterans who come through their doors with a personality of adjustment disorder.
Where to file for VA compensation?
There is a large number of organizations, people and lawyers that are not certified to help one file their VA claim. Filing without a representative is also not recommended. We recommend using only certified, well-known organizations and service officers. We recommend the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), American Legion and AMVets. They all offer free services. Not all branches of each organization have female on staff so it’s best to call around the various organizations till you find a female or a veteran service officer that you are comfortable with. If you have any questions about your VA compensation do not hesitate to contact us firstname.lastname@example.org
What to expect when filing a claim for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/PTSD
With assistance from your Veteran Service Officer, fill out and submit VA Form 21-526
Within a couple of weeks you will receive a notice stating that the VBA received your application.
You’ll receive a second letter if the VA is having difficulty getting hold of any of your medical or military records. It is your responsibility to submit all necessary documents that the VA asks for. This will be anywhere from 1-6 months of submitting your claim.
You’ll receive a phone call or letter informing you of an C&P appointment. This is done at a non-VA facility where you’ll meet with a VA contractor either a therapist or Social Worker. It is like one long interview where they will ask you tons of questions ranging from count from 1-100 backward and details about your traumatic event and symptoms. This will be 2-6+ months of submitting your claim.
You’ll receive a notice from the VBA. If you are awarded compensation it’ll state the percentage and when you’ll start receiving payments and possible back pay. If you have been denied you can appeal. This takes anywhere from 8 months to over a year to complete. (MRC, Copyright 2009)
How to appeal the VA’s decision:
The first step in appealing a claim is to send the VA regional office a “Notice of Disagreement ” (NOD). There is no official NOD form. Generally, the NOD can be a written statement on VA Form 21-4138 (Statement in Support of Claim) or a letter that states that you disagree with the decision. Be sure to include in your NOD the date of the decision that you disagree with, which issues you disagree with and that you intend to appeal those issues. You have one year from the date of the VA’s notice of its decision to file your NOD with the VA regional office. If you miss this deadline, you can only reopen your claim based on new and material evidence or establishing that the VA denial was the product of clear and unmistakable error (which is very difficult to prove).
After the VA receives your NOD, you should receive a letter that acknowledges your NOD. You will be asked whether you wish to have your appeal sent to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) in Washington, D.C., or whether you wish to have your claim reviewed on a de novo basis. The latter refers to the VA’s Decision Review Officer (DRO) program. This is an informal appellate process within the regional office. The DRO has the authority to reverse or modify a VA rating board decision. We recommend that you seek DRO review before you request a BVA appeal. The DRO process is frequently successful and is generally faster than going straight to the BVA. If you do not receive a better decision from the DRO, you can still appeal to the BVA.
Once the DRO has made a decision or has received your request for BVA consideration, the VA will issue a “Statement of the Case” (SOC). This document will explain the VA’s decision(s) in detail. You have 60 days from the date of the SOC to file your substantive appeal to the BVA on VA Form 9. (VA forms can be downloaded from the VA’s “Compensation” website. You can even apply for benefits online under “Vonapp” (Veterans Online Application)). Your appeal will then be certified and forwarded to the BVA for consideration. (Vietnam Veterans of America, Copyright 2004)