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Michellee

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VA Simplifies Access to Health Care and Benefits for Veterans with PTSD

July 12, 2010

WASHINGTON – Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced a critical step forward in providing an easier process for Veterans seeking health care and disability compensation for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), with the publication of a final regulation in the Federal Register.

“This nation has a solemn obligation to the men and women who have honorably served this country and suffer from the often devastating emotional wounds of war,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “This final regulation goes a long way to ensure that Veterans receive the benefits and services they need.”

By publishing a final regulation in the Federal Register to simplify the process for a Veteran to claim service connection for PTSD, VA reduces 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.

This science-based regulation relies on evidence that concluded that a Veteran’s deployment to a war zone is linked to an increased risk of PTSD.

Under the new rule, VA would not require corroboration of a stressor related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity if a VA doctor confirms that the stressful experience recalled by a Veteran adequately supports a diagnosis of PTSD and the Veteran's symptoms are related to the claimed stressor.

Previously, claims adjudicators were required to corroborate that a non-combat Veteran actually experienced a stressor related to hostile military activity. This final rule simplifies the development that is required for these cases.

VA expects this rulemaking to decrease the time it takes VA to decide access to care and claims falling under the revised criteria. More than 400,000 Veterans currently receiving compensation benefits are service connected for PTSD. Combined with VA’s shorter claims form, VA’s new streamlined, science-based regulation allows for faster and more accurate decisions that also expedite access to medical care and other benefits for Veterans.

PTSD is a medically recognized anxiety disorder that can develop from seeing or experiencing an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury to which a person responds with intense fear, helplessness or horror, and is not uncommon among war Veterans.

Disability compensation is a tax-free benefit paid to a Veteran for disabilities that are a result of -- or made worse by -- injuries or diseases associated with active service.

For additional information, go to www.va.gov or call VA’s toll free benefits number at 1-800-827-1000.

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Wow if I am understanding this right seeing that I am under the influence of multiple medications to include narcotics for pain I have to always read and reread and still careful with my interpretation. But as I read this it sounds like it is saying that to make it easier for veterans that they no longer have to prove a stressor for PTSD just have VA Doc confirm the stress experience by the veteran and have a diagnoses by the DOC. Woweeeeeeeee!

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Great News! My question is even though pending claims will be covered under this new regulation; will there be retroactive compensation due to those vets who were already in the system pending a decision?

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If their claim was for PTSD and continuously prosecuted in appeals or still pending I would think nothing could alter that their EED for retro would be their date of filing the claim.

Here is the pdf that was posted at VA web site as to info Q and A on these claims:

http://www.va.gov/PTSD_QA.pdf

They said tomorrow the formal new reg will be posted.

I see no problem wioth the VA doctor diagnosis criteria.

If a vet has a private PTSD doctor he or she would surely need a C & P from VA anyhow and they could bring their private doctor's diagnosis, treatment records and meds list info to the C & P doc.

It is possible that even with PTSD as a private diagnosis -a VA doc will not corroborate PTSD for VA claims purposes. In a case like that then I think the veteran might still have to prove their stressor.

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Don, I can conceivably buy into what you are saying. However, I don't think the VA docs are that naive. For every regulation the government approves,; they have already had their indoctrination in the training manuals how to scruntinzie and still deny. The issue I think is that we bascially all get VA medical but I think the compensation will be that to a minimum regardless of your condition. For us vets who have real combat issues, I don't see any problems.

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Someone please tell me if I am reading this right. It appears that this pretty much applies to everyone diagnosed with PTSD, not just combat or war zone vets. Is that correct?

7. Is the new regulation applicable only if the Veteran's statements relate to combat or POW service?

No. The rule states that the stressor must be related to a “fear of hostile military or terrorist activity,” and the claimed stressor must be “consistent with the places, types, and circumstances of the veteran’s service.”

10. Is a Veteran's testimony about “fear of hostile military or terrorist activity” alone sufficient to establish a stressor?

Yes, if the other requirements of the regulation are satisfied, i.e., a VA psychiatrist or psychologist confirms that the claimed stressor is adequate to support a PTSD diagnosis and that the Veteran's symptoms are related to the claimed stressor, and the stressor is consistent with the “places, types, and circumstances of the Veteran’s service.”

11. Are the stressors accepted as adequate for establishing service connection under new § 3.304(f)(3) limited to those specifically identified in the new regulation?

No. The examples given in the revised regulation do not represent an exclusive list in view of the use of the modifying phrase “such as” that precedes the listed examples. Any

event or circumstance that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of the Veteran or others, would qualify as a stressor under new § 3.304(f)(3).

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Vync - I too seem to think you are correct.

But only those actual regs will let us know for sure.

This started out as only impinging on PGW,Iraq and Afganistan veterans.

The Q & A I posted seems to suggest that only pending claims would be covered so maybe they think the only PTSD claims that are pending would most likely be from SW Asia vets-which isnt the case at all.

“fear of hostile military or terrorist activity,"

Wouldn't that cover any veteran in a war zone?

I wonder what the VA's definition of a green zone would be or what MOS is not consistent with fear under many circumstances ........

???????????????

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