Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most common reasons Veterans seek disability benefits, but the condition is widely misunderstood. If you have been diagnosed with PTSD, it’s important to make sure you have the facts you need to make informed decisions about your eligibility for disability benefits as well as your treatment options.
Myth #1: PTSD Is Just Stress
PTSD is more than combat stress. Although the symptoms of combat stress can sometimes overlap with those experienced by Veterans with PTSD, combat stress is a normal reaction to the duties of a solider and is essentially a more intense version of the job-related stress that most workers experience at some point in their career. It subsides within a few weeks and is managed using coping techniques such as talking to a friend, seeking counsel from a spiritual leader, or exercising regularly.
PTSD is an ongoing mental health disorder. Symptoms last more than one month and are severe enough to interfere with a person’s daily functioning at home or at work. Professional treatment is needed.
Myth #2: Developing PTSD Makes You Weak
PTSD is not a character defect. It has nothing to do with your mental or physical strength. Anyone can develop PTSD after exposure to trauma. However, people with a family history of mental illness, those who have experienced past traumas such as physical assault or living through a natural disaster before joining the military, and those who have poor support systems at home are most likely to suffer from PTSD related to their military service.
Myth #3: PTSD Can’t Be Treated
While PTSD can’t be “cured” in the same way you’d fix a physical injury like a broken arm, it can be treated. A combination of therapy and medication can help Veterans with PTSD learn to manage their symptoms. Alternative treatments such as yoga, acupuncture, hypnosis, or massage may also be useful in helping a Veteran enjoy a higher quality of life.
When a Veteran with PTSD is approved for VA disability benefits, they receive cash compensation as well as access to medical care. Working with VA specialists can help you develop a plan to feel more like your old self.
Myth #4: PTSD Only Affects Your Mind
Although PTSD is considered a mental health disorder, it can lead to several physical health problems. Researchers are still learning how stress affects the entire body, but there is substantial evidence supporting the claim that PTSD can lead to a wide range of chronic medical problems that can have a negative impact on a person’s overall quality of life. For example, Veterans with PTSD can often obtain a secondary service connection for TMJ disorder and sleep apnea.
Veterans who have PTSD and other co-occurring medical conditions should consult an experienced VA disability attorney to learn about receiving secondary service connections. Linking co-occurring conditions to service-connected PTSD can significantly increase a Veteran’s overall monthly compensation—thus alleviating some of the financial stress they may experience as they make the transition back into civilian life.
Myth #5: All Veterans Experience PTSD in the Same Way
Mental health disorders are complex illnesses because they can affect people in many ways. For example, while male Veterans with PTSD often report feeling anger as a major symptom, female Veterans with PTSD are more likely to feel emotionally numb. Some Veterans with PTSD are able to continue to hold full-time employment, while others are impaired to the extent that they qualify for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits.
If you are struggling with PTSD, avoid making unfounded assumptions about what your day-to-day treatment progress should look like. Even if you know others who have been diagnosed with PTSD, your experience will be unique.
Myth #6: A Denial Means You Do Not Qualify for Benefits
If your initial application for VA disability benefits has been denied, don’t give up. Many applications are denied due to missing evidence, incomplete paperwork, or misinterpretations of the law.
If you believe your application for VA disability benefits for PTSD has been unfairly denied, you should contact a Veterans benefits attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options for appeal. Call the office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.