Sunday, July 25, 2010

Questions and Answers for New PTSD Rule (VA Office of Field Operations July 9, 2010)

I heard that VA has changed the regulations for PTSD claims. What has changed? VA has amended its rules for processing disability compensation claims for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The new rule eliminates the requirement for corroborating evidence of the claimed in-service stressor if it is related to the veteran’s “fear of hostile military or terrorist activity”.

What are the new requirements of this change? This new rule now requires that the following be demonstrated to establish service connection for PTSD: the claimed stressor is consistent with the places, types, and circumstances of the veteran’s service; A VA psychiatrist or psychologist, or contract equivalent, confirms that the claimed stressor is adequate to support a diagnosis of PTSD; and the veteran’s symptoms are related to the claimed stressor.

When does this new rule take effect? The new rule is effective on July 13, 2010. The rule is applicable to all PTSD service connected claims, including appeals, that are: pending before VA, or received on or after, July 13, 2010; pending before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals; or pending before VA on or after July 13, 2010, because the Veterans Court vacated and remanded a Board decision.

I claimed PTSD before and was denied. If I reopen now, will VA go back to when I first claimed PTSD? If service connection for PTSD is granted under the amended regulation, the effective date will be no earlier than July 13, 2010, the date the new rule went into effect.

I currently have a PTSD claim (or appeal) for service connection pending at the regional office and am waiting for a decision. What do I have to do? Nothing. This new rule will be applied to any pending claim (or appeal) involving service connection for PTSD.

Should I still provide proof of my combat medals? You should always submit any evidence that would support your claim.

I claimed PTSD. Will I be scheduled for a VA exam? Your claim will be reviewed and, if a VA exam is necessary, you will receive a separate notification letter with reporting instructions.

My private physician has already diagnosed me with PTSD. Do I have to report for a VA exam? A private report or diagnosis is not adequate for establishing service connection for PTSD; therefore, a VA exam will be required. You should submit this supporting evidence from your doctor, or we can request those for you. (PCR must offer VA Form 21-4142 and document evidence on VA Form 21-0820. Refer VA Form 21-0820 to SOJ.)

I have been denied service connection for PTSD in the past. How do I reapply? We will have to reopen your claim. (PCR must take claim on VA Form 21-0820 and refer to SOJ.)

Does this change regarding PTSD apply to any Veteran? Yes. This change applies to all veterans, regardless of when they served.

VA Simplifies Access to Health Care and Benefits for Veterans with PTSD (VA News Release 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.

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 rule making 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.

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


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...