It is very common for people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event to develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) later on in their lives. Fear and stress are natural reactions to the situations that these individuals have encountered. According to a study, PTSD patients express fear excessively. They also associate fear responses with their trauma memories and cues.
Let’s look closely at PTSD among military veterans, how often veterans suffer from PTSD, and what veteran disability benefits they can receive.
Why does PTSD develop?
There are many reasons why PTSD can develop. Perhaps an individual has been a victim of rape or suffered emotionally due to the death of a loved one. Other common causes include abuse or neglect, serious accidents, natural disasters, physical assault, and seeing other people get hurt or killed.
Anyone can develop PTSD. However, some people are at a greater risk due to genetic, cultural or environmental conditions. In fact, this disorder is highly typical among military veterans.
We all know how challenging the lives of military veterans are. They are required to undergo countless extensive preparations and maintain peak fitness levels to make sure they can respond to emergencies quickly. Working in the military also means making long-term commitments, while being deployed to various, unfamiliar locations. This means they must be willing to be away from their loved ones for long periods of time.
Furthermore, serving one’s country with the possibility of losing one’s life while on duty is something difficult to bear when faced with situations that could potentially be fatal. While most are blessed to have survived wars and other types of disastrous events, others may have to live with the consequence of tragedy.
An adult may be diagnosed with PTSD if he or she is experiencing various symptoms for one month or more. This may include flashbacks or recurring dreams or memories related to the traumatic event. They may also avoid places, events, or even objects that make them remember the traumatic event. Being easily startled, feeling irritable, or having constant negative emotions are also considered PTSD symptoms.
How Common Is Post-Traumatic Stress in Veterans?
Working in the military means you are very familiar with witnessing combat. You may have also been exposed to several horrible and life-threatening missions. No wonder military veterans are the highest demographic suffering from service-related PTSD.
According to a study, several risk factors can manifest before, during, and after the trauma occurs.
Pre-Trauma Risk Factors:
- Being Female
- Being non-white
- Having a low level of education
- Non-officer ranking
- Serving in the army
- Smoking status
- A high number and length of deployments
- Prior unfavorable life events
- Prior trauma exposure
- Prior psychological problems
Peri-Trauma Risk Factors:
- Combat exposure
- Weapon discharge
- Witnessing someone being killed or injured
- Worry about family
Post-Trauma Risk Factors:
- Lack of deployment support
- Subsequent life stress
- Comorbid psychological problems
Prevalence of PTSD in veterans today
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs categorizes PTSD among veterans based on the particular deployment:
- 11%-20% of those who served in the Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operations Enduring Freedom OEF) have PTSD in a given year.
- 12% of veterans who served during the Gulf War (Desert Storm) have PTSD in a given year.
- 15% of veterans who served in Vietnam were diagnosed with PTSD during the late 1980s. Additionally, 30% of them are believed to have had PTSD in their lifetime.
Military sexual trauma (MST) is another cause of PTSD in the military. 23% of women reported that they have experienced sexual assault in the military. When it comes to sexual harassment, women (55%) are not the only victims. In fact, 38% of men have also reported being sexually harassed in the military.
There are also other studies that highlight the rates of veterans who suffer from PTSD. A study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information states that there is a 34.84% of PTSD prevalence among military personnel and veterans. Another study from The National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study shows that 87% of veterans have reported exposure to at least 1 potentially traumatic event (PTE) in their lifetime.
Getting Veteran Disability Benefits for PTSD
Military veterans who are suffering from PTSD are entitled to VA disability compensation. This is a tax-free payment provided to veterans every month. Aside from PTSD, some other illnesses and injuries can qualify a veteran for this kind of compensation.
Another option to attain disability benefits is through Social Security Disability. A veteran may qualify for a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if his or her PTSD is severe enough that it prohibits the individual from working. If the PTSD symptoms are not that critical, the Social Security Disability compensation can be provided in the form of a medical-vocational allowance.
Military veterans can also seek the assistance of service providers, such as Guards Down. Organizations such as these are dedicated to giving our troops and their families the counseling and mentoring they need to heal and thrive. Guards Down, in particular, focuses on the holistic aspects of the healing journey, which includes working with culturally-sensitive counselors and coaches, treatment with herbal remedies such as CBD oil, and finding support through a like-minded community and events.
How do you qualify for veteran disability benefits for PTSD?
These are the factors that can qualify a veteran for the VA disability compensation:
- Diagnosed with PTSD
- The symptoms or traumatic experiences are acquired during the military service
- Failure to function well prior to the condition
- Can show the latest medical records as proof that their PTSD is a result of military service
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also considers the presence of the following traumatic events that relate to PTSD:
- Serious injury
- Personal or sexual trauma
- Sexual violation
- Injury, sexual assault, or death threat
How to get social security disability approved PTSD benefits? Foremost, the veteran must meet the requirements listed under the Blue Book Section 12.06. He or she must also present medical records as proof. The medical records should include a detailed description of the veteran’s anxiety condition and the factors that have made it worse. It should also match a doctor’s observations.
How much do you receive for such benefits?
The amount of compensation a veteran can get varies on a rating system. You might ask, “how to get a PTSD rating?” Essentially, this rating is measured by the severity of the disability. The score that is usually given is in 10% increments, ranging from 10% to 100% disabled. The higher the percentage given, the higher the potential amount of compensation is distributed.
As per the Veterans Affairs, those who have a 10% to 20% disability rating will not get a higher rate. The rates will remain the same, regardless if the veteran has a dependent spouse, child, or parent. The monthly payment coverage for those who have a 10% disability rating is $142.29. Meanwhile, the monthly payment coverage for those who have a 20% disability rating is $281.27. Find out more information here.
When it comes to PTSD, there are several factors to be considered. This includes the severity, frequency, and duration of the psychiatric symptoms, the length of remissions, as well as the capability of the veteran to adjust during periods of remission. The rating agency also takes a look at the intensity of occupational and social impairment suffered by the veteran.
But, it doesn’t stop there. Even after a veteran is initially rated, he or she may still be re-evaluated. Veterans Affairs does this to make sure that each individual is given the right compensation. As such, their ratings can either increase or be reduced. Most likely, veterans with service-connected disabilities that may improve over time can have their ratings reduced. On the other hand, those whose conditions have worsened will, of course, be granted higher ratings.
How often does the VA reevaluate ratings? They can schedule it six months after the veteran leaves his or her service or between two to five years upon being granted VA disability benefits. It is a requirement to show up for the examination. Failure to show up will automatically lead to a reduction or termination of disability benefits.
Meanwhile, SSDI benefits aren’t based on the severity of the disability or the income of the veteran. The amount an individual is to receive will be based on his or her average lifetime earnings before the disability started. The estimated average amount for a disabled worker is $1,259 per month, as per the Social Security fact sheet.
Can your dependents also take advantage of such benefits?
If a veteran received a disability rating of 30% or higher, his or her dependents may be added to also receive benefits. These dependents include a spouse, children, or parents. The veteran must include his or her dependents on the VA disability claim.
Social security also compensates a veteran’s dependents. Benefits can be extended to the spouse, divorced spouse, children, disabled child, or adult children under 22 years of age. Dependents can be eligible for up to 50% of the amount received by the disabled individual. But Social Security will only pay 150% to 180% of the veteran’s benefits for the entire family.
Many studies show the high percentage of veterans who suffer from PTSD. The risk factors that increase the chance of PTSD are present not just while on duty but can also manifest before and after service.
Fortunately, the U.S. Government provides different financial benefits such as VA disability compensation, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as a way to assist those in need. If you or someone you know has served in the military and might be exhibiting the signs of PTSD symptoms, don't delay asking for help.
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