The stress and trauma associated with being a prisoner of war has been studied extensively—leading researchers to link a number of serious health conditions to the POW experience. Currently, there are more than 16,000 former POWs receiving disability compensation for injuries, diseases, or illnesses connected to their military service. In most of these cases, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the Veteran’s primary disability.
Receiving a Presumptive Service Connection
If you are a former prisoner of war who has been diagnosed with PTSD, your condition qualifies for a presumptive service connection if it is at least 10% disabling. It does not matter how long you were in captivity. Additional benefits may be available if you have also been diagnosed with psychosis, dysthymic disorder (depressive neurosis), cold injury, traumatic arthritis, stroke, or heart disease. Claims for osteoporosis occurring on or after October 10, 2008, also qualify for a presumptive service connection if the POW has PTSD.
If you receive a presumptive service connection, you will still need to submit evidence that outlines the severity of your symptoms to determine your disability rating. If you wish to receive Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits, you will need to submit evidence outlining how PTSD affects your ability to work.
If you have conditions that are caused by your PTSD, these disabilities may qualify for a secondary service connection. Sleep apnea, migraines, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and erectile dysfunction are just a few of the conditions that are common secondary service-connected disabilities for veterans with PTSD.
Additional Benefits for Former Prisoners of War
In addition to being eligible for disability compensation for PTSD and other service-connected conditions caused by your time in captivity, you may also be eligible for benefits for education and training, vocational rehabilitation and employment, home loans, insurance, and more. Some of these benefits are available to a surviving spouse, dependent child, or parent.
You can contact the VA Regional Office and ask to speak to the POW Veterans Outreach Coordinator to learn more about what benefits you might qualify for and receive assistance applying for those benefits or referrals to various community organizations to help you meet your needs.
Speak to an Experienced Veterans Benefits AttorneyDo you have questions about your eligibility for VA disability benefits as a former POW? Contact the office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, to request a free, no-obligation consultation.