How hard is it to win a PTSD disability claim from the VA if your medical records are lost.
7 attorney answers
Navigating the VA disability compensation claim process can be extremely frustrating and time-consuming. However, don't let the VA discourage you from pursuing your claim. I find it hard to believe that your medical records are simply lost. There are at least a couple of ways that you can request copies of your military medical records that do not involve the VA. Also, as some of the other attorneys have mentioned, the current status of your PTSD will be a factor as well - current medical records will be helpful. You should take advantage of one of the free consult offers here to get more detailed information tailored to your specific situation. I specialize in VA disability compensation appeals and would be more than happy to talk with you one on one to provide you an initial consultation for free.
This response is for informational purposes only. This response and your receipt of it (1) is not provided in the course of and DOES NOT CREATE OR CONSTITUTE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP; (2) is NOT intended as A SOLICITATION; (3) is NOT intended to convey or constitute LEGAL ADVICE; and (4) is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney. You should not act upon or rely on any information provided in this response without first consulting with an attorney regarding your specific situation, facts, and circumstances.
If you are unable to perform substantial gainful activity (e.g., a full time job) then you may want to consider applying for Social Security too. I have had many clients get approved as a result of PTSD. You may apply online at www.ssa.gov or by calling 1-800-772-1213. If you prefer to have assistance then I recommend that you contact an attorney who handles Social Security disability cases. Some lawyers will actually file the Social Security application for you.
As I understand your question, you are seeking service connection for PTSD, not proper rating. If this is the case you have to show something happened in service and that you have corroborating evidence of that event. What you need for evidence depends on your stressor. The best evidence for this is service medical records. Your service records, records apart from the medical records, are found in a separate location so you can get VA to request those. You can also look for buddies to give statements about your problem and outside sources of information that verify your stressor.
I have written extensively on this issue. Here is a blog post with more info http://www.hillandponton.com/winning-va-service-connected-compensation-for-ptsd/
It should not be that much of a problem. VA rates you on your current disability. That can be documented by your current provider or an examiner. If you are missing the service records- showing a service connection for PTSD- that should not prevent you from filing a claim. You still can file, and you still can be successful- but you may need to get an opinion showing service connection. I am in Tallahassee and offer free consultations for VA claims and appeals. If you have more questions or want more detail, feel free to contact me –www.mattwardpa.com
This post is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice specific to you. The attorney client relationship with Matthew Ward, or Matt Ward, P.A., is not established by this post.
Medical records are very important, so if they can be found that is your best evidence. There are other ways to provide evidence to the veterans administration. You can utilize independent medical evaluations, buddy statements, and statements from your commanders, that all may be helpful in showing that your condition is service-connected and/or service aggravated. Aside from that, the severity of your current condition may fluctuate over time, which is why continued treatment is important.
If you have been denied, I would highly recommend contacting a lawyer that specializes, or focuses, his or her practice on veterans disability compensation.
The lawyers who practice in this field and who are competent at what they do, can review the records to determine the best course of action. Most if not all work on a contingency basis set by the veterans administration of 25%. Therefore, if you don't when your appeal, you do not incur any fee.
Thank you for your service and sacrifices. The VA can be a frustrating maze. I'm a little surprised none of your records were maintained, but then again I had a similar issue with one of my important records.
Have you checked with the records archival in St. Louis? All modern records are supposed to be archived there, as I understand.
I'm assuming you didn't keep your records? I know how difficult it can be to hold onto medical records.
If you do some hunting, you can find their contact number, or the VA or the military can give it to you. If you still cannot locate it, I have it in my files somewhere and you can message me for a number there. It'll take me an hour to find it though, so please simply ask your point of contact first.
You shouldn't need a lawyer, just do some leg work and make some phone calls - the records MUST exist in hard copy or electronic copies (depending on how old they are). Good luck.
*NOT LEGAL ADVICE. YOU HAVE NOT PAID ME A RETAINER. WE DO NOT HAVE AN ATTORNEY CLIENT RELATIONSHIP. This is general information for educational purposes only. You should always hire a lawyer and reveal all the unique facts to get the best answer for your unique situation. Answering this question on a public forum does not create an attorney-client relationship.
Thank you for your service to this nation, even though the VA is not making you feel like we appreciate your service. This question belongs in a different legal category. I am redirecting it so you can get input from attorneys who handle these claims. Your situation is not unusual, so it is highly likely you will obtain some helpful information from their responses. You probably will need to consult with and hire an attorney who is skilled in dealing with these issues.