A Helpful Guide to Better Understanding the Benefits Application Procedure
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that one in five former soldiers suffer from combat-related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A wide variety of benefits are available for those diagnosed with the condition, however the claims process itself can be complicated and stressful. This step-by-step guide will help you get to grips with the benefits system.
In order to complete the process you will need to think about your experiences of combat trauma, and it is likely you will need to document every incident you feel may have contributed towards your current state of mind. You are strongly encouraged to submit as much evidence as possible to help with your claim.
How Will I Know If I Have PTSD?
Veterans often find it a struggle to fit back into society, but according to the National Center for PTSD you should seek help if your symptoms last longer than 3 months, are causing you increased stress, or seem to be disrupting your daily life. If you witnessed violence, carnage and death during your time in the military then you may need to know how to deal with PTSD. Common symptoms of military PTSD include: reliving the event through nightmares, flashbacks or triggers, avoiding situations that are reminiscent of the event, becoming negative about other people and the world around you, and becoming angry or irritable very quickly. The United Stated Department of Veteran Affairs will provide benefits to those who developed PTSD due to their military service, so if you feel you might be suffering from the disorder make sure you seek professional help from a doctor or counselor as soon as possible. Take with you a list of your symptoms to allow for a more in-depth diagnosis and be willing to discuss effective treatment options.
What Am I Entitled to?
Benefits are provided to those who have developed PTSD during, or as a result of, their active military service and can include: financial support with tax-free monetary payments, free or low cost health care, rehabilitation options, employment assistance, housing grants, living support and more. For PTSD you will be awarded Disability Compensation, and like all benefits the amount is based on the severity of the condition. Dependents are also considered as part of your claim, along with any payments you currently receive. You’ll begin by completing an application for the Veterans Benefits Administration department who will examine both the medical and psychological evidence of your condition.
How Do I Make a Claim?
The VA has created an 8-step guide for claiming PTSD compensation and full details of this process can be found on the official United States Department of Veteran Affairs website. Getting free help with your claim from a specially trained Veterans Service Officer will also give you a better understanding of the benefit laws and procedures.
- Step 1: Claim Received – You can submit your claim in person, online or via the postal service.
- Step 2: Under Review – Your claim will be assigned to a Veterans Service Representative to determine if additional evidence is needed.
- Step 3: Gathering of Evidence – They will obtain supporting evidence from the available resources.
- Step 4: Review of Evidence – The VSR will assess if more evidence is needed.
- Step 5: Preparation for Decision – They will begin to recommend a decision.
- Step 6: Pending Decision Approval – A final award approval is made by a supervisor.
- Step 7: Preparation for Notification – A claim decision pack will be prepared ready to be sent to you.
- Step 8: Complete – You will receive a claims decision packet outlining your compensation attributes.
Completing a claim may be a slow and lengthy procedure, and you must allow for requests of additional evidence as your claim is being processed. Make sure you fully track the progress of your claim, apply to any correspondence you receive and keep copies of all your paperwork.
What Extra Help Can I Get with My Claim?
- Filling out a worksheet created by the PTSD Help Network will help you massively with Step 1 of the claims procedure
- The Military Veterans PTSD Reference Manuel is a free online guide to helping you with your claim
- Look out for veteran association groups online as these will have plenty of helpful advice about PTSD and how to claim compensation
If your claim is denied outright, or if you feel the disability rating you have been awarded is not correct, you can appeal.
Remember, doing nothing or hoping the symptoms will simply go away will not heal PTSD. Without the right help it can have a devastating effect on your life. If you feel you are displaying the symptoms of the condition take control by discussing it with your friends and family, visiting your physician and seeking the correct benefit options from the VA.