Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental illness that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. Many veterans experience and are service connected for PTSD because of their traumatic events during service. PTSD can also lead to the development of other conditions. Those conditions can also be service connected.
This article will cover:
What Is PTSD?
PTSD is post traumatic stress disorder. It is a mental heath condition that is triggered by a terrifying event. Symptoms of PTSD include:
If you believe you are experiencing the symptoms of PTSD, or related mental health disorder, contact your medical provider or your local VA medical center. If you believe you are in crisis please contact 911 or call the Veteran’s mental health line by
How do I get service connected for PTSD?
Like all conditions, to get service connected for PTSD you have to prove three things:
PTSD is slightly more difficult to confirm your in service event because the VA is prohibited from relying solely on your testimony to determine if your in-service stressor occurred. But, the VA still has a duty to assist you in confirming your stressful event.
I would add a paragraph here about combat veterans have a slightly lower burden in establishing an in-service stressor (to get more words).
The best way to provide information to the VA about your stressor is to fill out a VA Form 21-0781 or a VA Form 21-0781a if your stressor was a personal assault. Fill out at much information on those forms as you can. You can also get buddy statement confirming your stressful event. Any evidence that you had that the event occurred should be included.
If you have been diagnosed with PTSD make sure you send any medical records to the VA. If you are seen at a VA facility for your treatment the VA should already have those records. If you are seen outside the VA for your mental health treatment make sure you fill out a VA Form 21-4142 and VA Form 21-4142a. You can also request your medical records from your provide and send them directly to the VA.
Finally, you need a nexus. A nexus can be obtained from your treating provider, an outside expert, or an examination the VA sends you to. If you have provided that you have a diagnosis, an in service event, and any evidence showing that you’re in service event might have caused or aggravated your PTSD, the VA must provide you with an examination.
For tips about your examination, or question on if you examination was inadequate, check out our others posts. [SC1]
What conditions are secondary to PTSD?
Conditions can be service connected if they are directly related to service. They can also be service connected if they are caused or aggravated by a service connected disability. Because of the nature of PTSD and its overall effect on the body, there are several conditions that can be caused or aggravated by PTSD. If your condition is caused or aggravated by PTSD—you may be entitled to service connection for that condition.
There are a lot of conditions secondary to PTSD. Keep in mind though that all of these cases are fact specific. Just because it is listed below, or just because a fellow veteran has been service connected for that condition secondary to their PTSD, that does not mean you will be service connected. If you have questions about your specific case or if your specific condition can be service connected as secondary to PTSD contact Berry Law Firm. Common conditions that are secondary to PTSD are:
This list is not exhaustive. This list also depends on each veteran’s specific scenario. If you file for one of these conditions secondary to PTSD you may still be denied based on your individual medical history and your individual condition. It is important that when you file for service connection as secondary to PTSD you include additional evidence to show that your condition is secondary to your PTSD.
What evidence do you need to prove your condition is secondary to PTSD?
In order to get service connected for any condition you have to show that you have a diagnosis. You can get a diagnosis from your medical provider or through a VA examination.
In order to get a VA examination, you have to be able to show that you have symptoms of the condition. If you do not have a diagnosis or symptoms of a condition, you cannot be service connected for that condition.
The best way to establish you have a condition is to talk to your primary medical care provider about your symptoms and ask them to provide a diagnosis then submit that evidence to the VA. You can also submit a statement to the VA that details your symptoms. This statement can be from you or people in your life that witnessed your symptoms.
Next you have to establish that your conditions are caused or aggravated by your service connected PTSD. You can establish this if you can find medical research linking your condition PTSD. If you can find reputable research studies linking your condition to PTSD—submit those to the VA. You can also talk to your primary care physician about your conditions and what aggravates them. For example, if you blood pressure spikes when you have panic attacks associated with your PTSD, ask you primary care physician to note that in your medical records.
You may also get an outside medical professional to give you an opinion about if your condition is caused or aggravated by your PTSD. These can sometimes be persuasive to the VA, sometimes they are not. Talk to your representative or a representative at Berry Law Firm if you think you want to get an outside opinion.
If you submit an outside opinion, an opinion from your doctor, or medical research articles linking your condition to your PTSD, the VA may still require you to go to a VA examination. Sometimes a VA examiner will provide a positive nexus opinion about how your PTSD impacts your other condition.
PTSD is also known to cause weight gain. If your PTSD makes it difficult for you to exercise or eat right and your condition is caused by your weight gain, that may be a path to service connection. The Court of Appeals of Veteran Claims has held that obesity may be an intermediate step to service connection. If your PTSD causes your obesity and your obesity causes you other condition, then you should be service connected for that condition.
You do not need to prove that your PTSD causes your condition for it to be service connected. The only requirement is that your PTSD aggravates your condition.
Where can you go to get help in getting your condition service connected as secondary to PTSD?
Berry Law Firm is a full on experienced Veterans and Attorneys that can help you get your PTSD or secondary condition service connected. Beyond that, we can ensure that your conditions are rated correctly with the correct effective date. Contact Berry Law today for more information about getting service connected for your secondary conditions.
Our monthly newsletter features about important and up-to-date veterans' law news, keeping you informed about the changes that matter.