Today we are going to look at an introduction to making claims for service-connected Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The regulations make it clear that there are three basic requirements. These requirements are:
- You must have a medical diagnosis of PTSD using the criteria set forth in the DSM-IV, which is a reference book that physicians and psychologists use to help them diagnose mental illnesses.
- You must prove a link between your current symptoms and an in-service stressor. A stressor event must be significant and is generally occurrences like witnessing death, threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence.
- There must be credible evidence that the in-service stressor actually occurred.
If your PTSD was diagnosed while you were still in the service, your claim for compensation will be much stronger. Specifically, your lay testimony alone may establish that the stressor-event (either a general significant stressor, combat, prisoner of war, or exposure to certain terrorist activity) actually occurred if you were diagnosed in-service and the stressor is related to the service unless the VA can prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that the stressor-event did not occur.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that proving PTSD claims is very difficult given these requirements. Often times, the two major barriers are going to be proving the link between the stressor and your current symptoms and that the stressor actually occurred. Good luck!