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Female Veterans and Disability Claims

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), women make up the fastest-growing group of Veterans in the United States. More than 2 million female Veterans live in the U.S. As more women choose the military as a career path, they join the throngs of service members who suffer injuries that lead them to seek disability benefits. However, the process for female Veterans can look a lot different than that of their male counterparts.

Traditionally, women have had considerable difficulty proving they fit the qualifications for benefits. It used to be that service members had to prove that their injuries were directly related to combat (i.e. that they were in a combat zone when they were injured). Since women did not regularly serve in combat roles, it was believed that they could not have corresponding injuries.

However, traditional combat has changed and so have the different roles soldiers play. Women now play integral roles in every aspect of combat missions, serving as pilots, vehicle drivers, mechanics, and infantry officers without exclusion. Additionally, women regularly come under fire in areas that are not designated as combat zones.

Female Veteran Population

The Department of Labor estimates women currently make up about 10% of the overall Veteran population, up from 4% in 2000. The VA projects females will make up 14% of the Veteran population by 2040. About 1.5% of all women in the U.S. are Veterans.

The Brookings Institution, in its 2020 Gender Equality Series, noted that legislation allowing women to serve in the military was passed in 1948. However, it wasn’t until 2015 that the ban on women serving in combat was lifted entirely.

More than 300,000 women served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11, and over 9,000 female Veterans have earned Combat Action Badges (CAB). A CAB is awarded to soldiers who personally engage the enemy in ground combat or perform duties while being engaged by the enemy in combat.

PTSD and Mental Health Issues Among Women Veterans

Female Veterans are applying for disability benefits for physical ailments as well as mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The mental trauma that comes from being in hostile areas for an extended time makes PTSD a frequently reported ailment among both male and female Veterans.

The Wounded Warrior Project recently released a Women Warriors Report that noted 76.9% of female Veterans have sought professional mental health care. Four of the top five service-related injuries and health problems reported by women Veterans are mental health issues:

  • Anxiety – 83.7%
  • Depression – 81.2%
  • Sleep problems – 76.8%
  • PTSD – 72.7%

The fifth-highest reported service-related injury, according to the study, is migraines or chronic headaches, reported by 53.6% of female Veterans.

The study noted that, overall, female Veterans were slightly more likely than male Veterans to present with moderate to severe symptoms of depression, PTSD, and anxiety.

The rate of suicide or suicidal ideation was much higher among female Veterans than males, with 56.1% of women warriors reporting suicidal ideation in their lifetime compared to 50.8% of male warriors. About 33.2% of female service members reported attempted suicide compared to 23.5% of male service members.

Military Sexual Trauma (MST)

The rate of military sexual trauma (MST) and sexual harassment in the military disproportionately affects women. These incidents not only have physical implications, but mental consequences as well. Sexual trauma is a major factor in PTSD diagnoses, but it can be a challenge to prove that sexual harassment, assault, or abuse occurred, especially if the event was not documented.

Approximately 64.9% of women reported that they experienced sexual harassment during their service, compared to 51.1% of male service members.

In response to increased awareness and the difficulty of obtaining supporting evidence in many cases, the VA has implemented various measures to better assist MST survivors seeking disability compensation. Evidentiary standards were purportedly eased in 2002. One of the adjustments made it so official reports and standardized documentation were not required to file a claim for MST.

The VA began providing specialized training for VA regional office staff handling MST-related claims starting in 2011. It also started offering specific training to medical examiners involved in these cases in 2012.

The VA recognized that some valid claims may have been denied before these changes. As a result, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) invited over 2,500 Veterans whose MST-related PTSD claims had been denied in 2013 to resubmit them for reconsideration.

Nevertheless, an experienced disability benefits attorney can help in the process.

How Can a Veterans Benefits Lawyer Help?

The seasoned PTSD lawyers at Berry Law know how to put together relevant information to support a claim, including transfers, episodes of depression, substance abuse, and social behavior events, all of which ostensibly happen after a traumatic event. They can provide invaluable assistance to female Veterans navigating disability benefits claims, particularly if a prior claim has been denied. Here’s how they can help:

  • Legal Experience: A lawyer focusing on Veterans’ benefits understands the complex regulations and procedures involved in the claims process. They can provide knowledgeable guidance tailored to the unique circumstances of female Veterans.
  • Reviewing Denied Claims: If a claim has been denied, a lawyer can thoroughly review the decision to identify any errors or reasons for denial. They can assess whether there are grounds for appeal or if there are additional steps that can be taken to strengthen the claim.
  • Gathering Evidence: Lawyers can help gather relevant medical records, service records, and other evidence to support the disability claim. This may include obtaining expert opinions or testimonies to strengthen the case.
  • Preparing Appeals: If a claim needs to be appealed, a lawyer can handle the preparation and submission of all necessary paperwork and documentation. They can ensure that the appeal is filed within the required deadlines and present the case effectively to the VA.
  • Representation in Hearings: In cases where a hearing is necessary, a Veterans benefits lawyer can represent the female Veteran before the VA, providing advocacy and support throughout the process.

Contact Berry Law for Female Veteran Disability Benefits Claims

For female Veterans navigating the complexities of disability benefits claims, Berry Law offers a supportive hand tailored to the unique challenges they face. With a team that includes attorneys and legal professionals who are Veterans themselves, we intimately understand the hurdles encountered in securing the benefits they deserve.

Our experienced team of VA disability benfits lawyer stands ready to provide guidance and representation, whether a Veteran is filing a new claim or appealing a denied one. We are committed to ensuring that female Veterans receive the recognition and support they are owed. Reach out to Berry Law today for a consultation. Together, we’ll navigate the path forward and work tirelessly to achieve results.

We represent Veterans in all 50 states and our legal team is available 24/7. Call us at 888-883-2483 for a confidential consultation or fill out our online contact form.

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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