Below are some questions sent to Rick
Every person's case is different and some may need to seek specific advice from someone who has a complete knowledge of their case history, this forum is for general Information .
My brother has been having a lot of trouble. He has worked hard all of his life but is now unable to work or stay focused. He has been doing some odd jobs, but, has not had anything substantial. It is a struggle to make his house payment each month. We recently were able to
get him some help through the VA. He has a 30% PTSD rating and has been receiving around $300. per month. I don't know for sure what to do to help him get that increased, but he is so depressed over his money situation, and he really doesn't feel well most of the time. I am very
concerned about him, and was hoping you could give us some information that would help us. Thanking you in advance for any advice or help.
Your email suggests that you were recently successful in having your brother rated 30 percent disabled because of his PTSD. If it was recent, you might either ask the VA to reconsider the rating or you may wish to appeal the decision. Neither option is an immediate fix. Looking to increase his PTSD rating should be viewed as a long term project with the goal of providing him
with a substantial income for the rest of his life.
Over the years, I've found that lots of vets (and their families) are aware of PTSD, its existence within their family, and that it is compensable by the VA. Unfortunately, few veterans take the time to educate themselves about the disorder before filing a VA claim. Failing to do so can severely effect their ability to fully receive the benefits to which they are entitled.
Your email says your brother is "depressed over his money situation." While this may be true, the VA couldn't care less. In short, the only thing they want to know is if his depression is a result of his experiences in Vietnam and how bad his symptoms are. As harsh as it may seem, it is nonetheless quite true.
Seeking VA compensation for PTSD is a two part battle.
First, you must establish the existence of the disorder and that it is related
to military service. This part is already done in your brother's case.
The second part of the puzzle is to establish the degree of impairment resulting
from the disorder. The ranges of impairment for PTSD are 10, 30, 70, 100
percent. Your brother has to concentrate only on the second part of
his claim. The second part of a PTSD claim is the most difficult and also
highly subjective. It is not a black and white type of decision. How
much is awarded is almost wholly dependent on how well your brother can
articulate his symptoms to an examining psychiatrist.
It has always been my belief that those of us suffer from PTSD should make every possible effort to learn as much as we can about the disorder. Doing so has the twofold benefit of allowing us to describe it objectively to mental health providers; and, helps us help ourselves in dealing with its
Before your brother does anything, I would suggest some reading about PTSD and its symptoms. It will better prepare him to talk to a psychiatrist. There is a wealth of information available about PTSD on the Internet. The best starting point is http://www.ptsd.com
Now, as to his VA claim -- get local help! By
definition, PTSD makes a person less capable of handling a stressful situation,
such as filing and prosecuting a VA claim. For that very reason, the VA
will view your brother with suspicion if he is representing himself.
If you have not already done so, you need to have a veterans service professional represent your brother. The DAV and other veterans organizations provide such service free of charge. Try to find one who specializes in PTSD. Be as careful to choose a competent representative as
you would a doctor.
If your brother has private health care, you may also consider having him see a psychiatrist outside of the VA. This might give you a second opinion as to the degree of impairment that can be used to persuade the VA to increase his rating. Likewise, a professionally conducted Social and Industrial Survey can really pin down the degree of impairment for VA purposes.
This advice and information will hopefully get you going down the right path. Your brother is lucky to have a loving and caring sister. We wish you both well. If we can be of any further assistance, please feel free to drop me a note.
11th Cav - '69