Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects around 3.5 percent of the US population each year. During their lifetimes, 1 in 11 people will be diagnosed with this condition. Since this condition results from exposure to trauma, veterans suffer disproportionately from this mental illness. An astounding 11% to 20% of veterans have PTSD, a condition that manifests itself in multiple debilitating ways.
The most common symptoms of PTSD include severe and recurring disturbing thoughts and feelings connected to the trauma. Sufferers may experience flashbacks, nightmares, depression, anger, fear, and detachment. For some patients, the condition lasts a few months while others may suffer for years.
In this Article About Dissociative PTSD:
PTSD is a serious and complicated mental disorder, but all PTSD is not the same. It includes several subtypes. These subtypes include dissociative amnesia/dissociative identity disorder and derealization disorder. These disorders are known as 9614 and 9615 in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, PTSD dissociative subtype code.
These types of PTSD can make daily life extremely difficult if not impossible to navigate. In some situations, they qualify veterans to receive disability payments and other benefits from the VA. Before you receive this help, you will have to go through a complicated process which includes assessment on the dissociative subtype of PTSD scale.
Dissociative PTSD Overview
These subtypes of PTSD with dissociative symptoms have clear differences from non-dissociative PTSD. Dissociative PTSD is often severe and is associated with derealization and depersonalization symptoms. Sufferers may have severe memory problems, dissociation from family and friends, and fundamental identity issues. It’s not unusual for people with this condition to “lose time” and not be able to account for their movements during the day.
A separation can occur between the mind and body, which leaves sufferers extremely vulnerable.
It is also more strongly associated with early life trauma and often exists with other psychiatric disorders. Those with non-dissociative PTSD usually suffer from increased heart rate, lower activity in the prefrontal region, and high activity in the amygdala when exposed to traumatic reminders, while dissociative PTSD patients may exhibit the opposite pattern. Because dissociative PTSD differs so from other types of PTSD, patients may not recognize their symptoms as being PTSD. Complex PTSD dissociation symptoms can be difficult to diagnose and treat.
In this video, one of our VA disability lawyers talks about the VA Rating Formula for Mental Disorders and Disabilities like PTSD.
Eligibility for VA PTSD Disability
To receive VA disability for PTSD, you must show that the traumatic event, known as the stressor, occurred during your service and that you have symptoms related to that event. In addition, you must also meet the following criteria for PTSD disability compensation:
- The stressor happened during your service.
- You do not function at the level you did before you served because of your symptoms.
- A doctor has diagnosed you with PTSD.
If you meet all of these criteria, you may be eligible for health care, monthly financial compensation, and PTSD treatment.
Here one of our VA disability lawyers goes over the questions Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm, is often asked about veterans’ disability claims and appeals.
The VA will administer a 15-point test from the Dissociative Subtype of PTSD Scale (DSPS) manual to help determine if you meet their criteria for dissociative PTSD subtypes. You should not worry about demonstrating how traumatic your service experience was. You simply must establish a service connection to your symptoms. The test will determine if your symptoms meet the diagnostic criteria on a special PTSD assessment scale, known as the dissociative experiences scale.
The test also asks you about past symptoms and symptoms experienced in the last month. It is not designed to exclude veterans from a PTSD diagnosis, so you should answer each question honestly.
The 15 symptom questions on this test are as follows:
- “Have there been times where you felt disconnected from your body, as if your body were not your own?”
- “Have you felt “checked out,” that is, as if you were not really present and aware of what was going on around you?”
- “Have there been times when you felt like you were outside of your own body, as if you could look at yourself from the outside?”
- “Have you ‘lost time’ – that is, been unable to account for large portions of your day or had trouble accounting for what you did for portions of your day?”
- “Have there been times when you looked in the mirror and did not recognize yourself physically?”
- “Have there been times when you were in a familiar place, yet it seemed strange and unfamiliar to you?”
- “Have there been times when your body did not feel real?”
- “Have there been times when the world around you (other people, objects, places) did not seem real?”
- “Have there been times when your body felt very strange and unfamiliar to you, as if it were not your own body?”
- “Have there been times when you felt lost, disoriented, or confused in a location that you know well?”
- “Have there been times (other than when you were tired, sleepy, or on medications or drugs that made you drowsy) when you felt as if you were in a daze or a fog?”
- “Have there been times when you felt like you were watching the world around you as an outsider, as if it were a movie, but the world did not seem real?”
- “Have you had trouble remembering how you got somewhere (i.e., finding yourself at work, at home, at a store, or elsewhere without remembering how you traveled there)?”
- “Have you had trouble remembering important details about your worst traumatic event?”
- “Have you thought that you should be able to remember more about this worst traumatic event?”
The diagnostic test also asks you about the timeframe, frequency, and severity of your symptoms.
Here one of our VA disability lawyers talks about how SMC (Special Monthly Compensation) works to help you get more money for extra expenses related to your disabling condition every month.
VA medical professionals will carefully score your answers on the PTSD dissociation test. Your answers to certain questions help determine the type of condition that you have.
The DSPS test has questions addressing 3 subscales. They are:
- Derealization/Depersonalization (Questions 1,3,5,7,8,9,12)
- Loss of Awareness (Questions 2,4,6,10,11,13)
- Psychogenic Amnesia (Questions 14,15)
The VA will then score the test for lifetime and current symptoms and the presence and absence of the symptoms listed in the test. Your score will help determine if you meet the VA’s disability and treatment criteria for partial or full benefits.
The PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5)
Doctors may also want you to take a self-reporting test called the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5. This checklist is meant to screen individuals for PTSD, quantifying and monitoring symptoms, and making a “provisional” PTSD diagnosis. It consists of 20 questions, much like the DSPS test, although it is meant to determine symptoms that occurred in the past month and not long-term symptoms.
Your medical professionals will use multiple tools to determine your PTSD subtype in order to arrive at the most accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. These tools may include one or more PTSD evaluation surveys and multiple sessions with a mental health professional.
If you are a veteran with OCD and PTSD, you may be eligible for VA disability.
Applying for VA PTSD Disability Status
You need to take a measured and thorough approach to apply for benefits. First, you should determine if you are eligible for these benefits from the processes discussed above. Then you need to compile all the evidence possible to support your disability claim. This evidence will include VA medical records and hospital records that relate to your symptoms. You should also include private medical and hospital records that relate to PTSD, particularly if they demonstrate that your condition is long-term and/or worsening.
You can also submit statements from your family, friends, clergy, employers and law enforcement that support your claim and illustrate how your symptoms affect your daily life. They should be as detailed as possible.
A behind the scenes look at who works for you at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm.
Your VA Disability Rating
If your claim is approved, you will be assigned a disability ranking that ranges from 10% to 100%. This ranking determines how much monthly compensation you will receive. For instance, a 10% ranking means a monthly sum of $152.64, a small but helpful amount. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may receive two or three times that amount. Obviously, a 100% ranking recognizes that you have a severe disability and provides a significantly higher monthly benefit. Certain compensation levels also apply to dependents. If you are approved for disability but disagree with the benefit level, you can ask for a review or file an appeal.
Appealing a VA Disability Denial
If your PTSD disability application is denied or you receive less than you expected, you may appeal the decision. Thousands of veterans go through this process each year. The VA offers three different types of appeals or reviews. They are a Supplemental Claim, a Higher-Level Review, or a Board Appeal.
You should file a supplemental claim if you have new evidence that was not reviewed by the VA before. You can opt for a Higher-Level Review if you simply disagree with the VA’s decision and want someone higher up the chain to look at your case. They will not consider new evidence. A Board Appeal means a Veterans Law Judge will review your case. They will be the highest authority on your claim.
Although you are not required to get help in filing for a review or appeal, you will be more likely to overturn the previous decision if you have the help of an established law firm that specializes in veteran’s affairs, including VA disability claims. In fact, your chances of being approved on the first try improve if you seek experienced legal counsel before you file. The process is similar to filing for Social Security disability. Approval depends on presenting the best evidence possible and filling out the form correctly. An expert attorney can make certain that your claim is powerful and error-free.
Woods and Woods: The Veteran’s Firm
Woods and Woods specializes in handling veterans’ legal issues, including VA disability claims. As any US citizen knows, cutting through government bureaucracy is often difficult and time-consuming. Veterans with a dissociative subtype of PTSD do not have the time to wait endlessly for the financial and medical help that they need. Your condition is too severe to handle on your own.
Woods and Woods is a family-owned firm that has years of experience in dealing with the VA and its policies. We understand the system and will guide you through each step toward getting the benefits you are owed.
At Woods and Woods, the Veteran’s Firm, we’ve helped thousands of veterans with their VA disability applications and appeals. We’ve been adding staff and lawyers during the Covid pandemic to serve disabled veterans better in difficult times.
Call us today to discuss your VA disability appeal or your first application. The call is free and we won’t charge you a single fee until we win your case. We even pay for the postage for all of the documentation you send to our office. You can look for a VA disability attorney near you or call us and join the thousands of veterans living off of VA disability thanks to Woods and Woods.
Talk to Us About Your Claim: (866) 232-5777
Yes, that’s what we’re here for. Call our office and we’ll give you a free consultation. If we take your case, we’ll only charge you a portion of your back pay and every check you get in the future is all yours. You don’t even have to pay taxes on it.
It takes a long time to get VA disability from the government. If you could get it as soon as you need it, we’d tell you to wait. Since the wait is so long, however, we encourage veterans to join us in their VA disability application so that hopefully, when you need that VA Rating to quit working, it will be ready for you.