PTSD and Social Security Disability for Military Veterans - Why so Difficult?
Why do our military veterans have so much difficulty winning Social Security disability claims based on PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)?
As I discuss in this video, #PTSD claims like all #mentalhealthdisability claims are always going to be a challenge because there is no way to conclusively diagnose anxiety disorders. Your doctor cannot take an MRI of your brain and point to proof that you have PTSD or depression.
#SocialSecuritydisability #adjudicators and judges are trained to discount any medical condition where there is no objective proof. Many powerful members of Congress and cynical pundits contend that far too many disability claims are awarded based on unprovable allegations of mental health disorders and this narrative has influenced Social Security.
In the case of military veterans another problem can also arise due to the nature of the medical records in a struggling veteran’s file. Many ex-military members receive most or all of their mental health treatment at their local VA hospital. The VA system is huge and very bureaucratic and the treatment records produced are very difficult to use. #vamedicalrecords
When I request VA records for a Social Security disability client I often receive a package containing 500, 800 or even 1000 pages. VA treatment records contain excessive duplication - every time a VA patient sees his/her doctor the treatment record for that day will contain copies of treatment records from previous visits. A three page note for a particular day may be buried in 40 pages of duplicates from previous visits. That 1000 page record may contain 50 or 75 pages of unique information.
Social Security disability judges know how difficult VA records are to work with and they often do not have time to slog through the paperwork.
In addition to this practical problem, VA doctors and nurses tend to come and go so I often see a lack of consistency in treatment. VA clinicians also input their notes in to a VA medical database that is designed to minimize the severity of symptoms. And VA doctors are rarely willing to complete functional capacity evaluations.
My experience has been that military veterans who apply for Social Security disability based on PTSD or other mental health issues can greatly improve their chances of winning by seeking diagnoses and treatment outside the VA system, in addition to what they receive at the VA.
Despite the lip service politicians give to “taking care of our veterans” the truth is that ex-military personnel struggling with PTSD, #depression and #anxiety have an extremely difficult road when seeking #disabilitybenefits.
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