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Accessing Benefits for PTSD is Easier Than Ever

Soldiers shaking hands

DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen/Released

Reaching out for help is a sign of strength, and now it’s easier than ever before. In July 2010, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) began providing an easier process for veterans of all conflicts seeking health care and disability compensation for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Obtaining disability compensation — the tax-free benefit paid to a veteran for disabilities that are a result of active service — will now be faster and simpler for the brave men and women who have served in the armed forces and are now coping with PTSD.

How Does the New Rule Work?

Specifically, VA published a final regulation which reduces the evidence needed for getting disability compensation if the trauma claimed by a veteran is related to fear of hostile activity and is consistent with the circumstances of the veteran’s service.

Before this new rule, VA officials had to confirm the “stressor event” that a veteran reported experiencing unless the veteran received certain military awards or served in certain occupations.  This process could often be time-consuming, delaying care for those in need of support.

The new rule will no longer require VA officials to confirm a stressor tied to fear of hostile activity if a VA psychiatrist or psychologist can confirm that the experience recalled by a veteran supports a PTSD diagnosis and the veteran's symptoms are related to the stressor. Importantly, the regulation will eliminate the need to search for records to verify veterans’ accounts, which can be a very involved process.

The new rule will be particularly beneficial for:

  • Veterans whose military records have been damaged or destroyed
  • Veterans whose records don't specify they have combat experience
  • Veterans who have experienced combat but have no record of it
  • Veterans whose combat experience was long ago and their ability to recall the date of the event is diminished. Previously, knowing the approximate date was key to records searches.

VA will now be able to award benefits to veterans suffering from PTSD more quickly. So if you have been deterred by a claims process that seems time-consuming or frustrating, now is the time to come forward to get the treatment you need to return to peak functioning.

Access Treatment Today

If you or someone you know is experiencing issues related to PTSD, don’t hesitate to stand up and get the help you need. PTSD is a common reaction to uncommon circumstances, and can be treated or dealt with.

There are three ways you can speak with a trained professional right now about getting treatment for PTSD:

  1. Call or visit your local VA Medical Center. These are located across the country and range from small, local clinics to large hospitals.
  2. Call 800-827-1000, VA’s benefits information hotline.
  3. Contact a trained health resource consultant at the DCoE Outreach Center by logging on to Real Warriors Live Chat or calling 866-966-1020

Now, getting the benefits you need from VA is faster and easier than ever. So don’t delay if you need care — reaching out is a sign of strength.

Additional Resources

Sources

VA Simplifies Access to Health Care and Benefits for Veterans with PTSD,” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Published on July 12, 2010.

Wilson, Elaine. “VA Eases Claims Process for Veterans With PTSD.” American Forces Press Service. Published on July 12, 2010.

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