Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most commonly claimed mental health conditions eligible for VA disability benefits. However, getting approved for benefits isn’t easy. Sometimes, Veterans have their applications denied due to accusations of malingering.
Definition of Malingering
Malingering means that a person is intentionally exaggerating or falsifying their symptoms. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) says it’s defined as “intentional production of false or grossly exaggerated physical or psychological symptoms, motivated by external incentives.”
If you are accused of malingering, this could mean one of two things:
- The VA does not believe you have PTSD.
- The VA thinks you are exaggerating your PTSD symptoms to obtain a higher disability rating.
Reasons Malingering May Be Suspected
Malingering can be difficult to detect, but some of the common reasons a doctor might doubt your PTSD diagnosis or the severity of your symptoms include:
- You claim to have every PTSD symptom listed—which is unlikely since most Veterans only have a handful of symptoms.
- Your demeanor is happy and upbeat while describing flashbacks, nightmares, and other serious symptoms.
- Your mannerisms change when you believe no one is watching.
- You provide long stories describing your condition, but the details are vague.
- You are reluctant to agree to medical testing or suggested treatment.
- Your exam results don’t match your complaints.
It’s also possible that a doctor’s personal bias might be leading them to doubt your condition. Even trained medical professionals can fall victim to the trap of making unfounded assumptions.
Countering Accusations of Malingering
If your benefits are denied, you have the legal right to appeal. Working with an experienced Veterans benefits attorney is the best way to ensure your condition is appropriately documented so you can receive the compensation you deserve.
Key evidence for your case may include:
- Opinions from doctors experienced in treating PTSD
- Records of what treatments you’ve tried and how effective they have been—including medication and therapy
- Buddy statements from family, friends, and people you served with
- Your own personal statement about your symptoms and how they affect your life
The office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, is committed to helping Veterans access the benefits they need to provide for themselves and their families. Contact our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review with an experienced Veterans benefits lawyer.