Some Veterans develop PTSD immediately after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, like seeing a fellow service member killed in battle. However, other Veterans may not experience PTSD symptoms for some time after the trigger event. This is called delayed onset PTSD, which can be very confusing for Veterans who experience it.
This article will break down delayed-onset PTSD in Veterans, as well as what you should know and whether you qualify for disability benefits.
Delayed onset PTSD is the same as “normal” post-traumatic stress disorder. The only differentiating factor between “normal PTSD” and delayed onset PTSD is timing.
Put simply, delayed onset PTSD is PTSD that occurs sometime after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic trigger event. Here’s an example of the two types of PTSD:
Both delayed onset and standard PTSD can affect any Veteran for several reasons. Potential triggers or traumatic events include:
The symptoms of delayed onset PTSD are the same as those of regular PTSD. They include but are not limited to:
Again, the only difference between regular PTSD and delayed onset PTSD is when a Veteran starts showcasing symptoms (to themselves or others). With delayed onset PTSD, a Veteran may experience symptoms months, years, or even decades after the original traumatic event. That doesn’t make their PTSD any less valid than its counterpart.
It’s unknown why some Veterans experience delayed onset PTSD and others do not. Every individual is different, and people respond differently to the same stimuli or traumatic events. This comes down to things like brain chemistry, previous experiences, personality, direct involvement in the event, and so on.
However, the VA itself recognizes that many Veterans experience PTSD symptoms exclusively later in life. Many older Veterans may develop PTSD symptoms 50 or more years after their wartime experience. According to the VA, there are several potential reasons why this might be the case:
Whatever the case may be, Veterans who experience delayed onset PTSD need to know what their options are and how to recover disability compensation for their symptoms.
If you have developed delayed-onset PTSD in any capacity, and your military service caused or aggravated the PTSD, you could qualify for VA disability compensation and other benefits.
The VA recognizes PTSD as a potential service-connected disability. It does not care when you developed your symptoms so long as you can prove that you developed those symptoms because of an in-service injury, illness, or another event.
The date of the trigger event does not matter. For example, if you experienced combat at the age of 20, then only developed PTSD symptoms at the age of 50, it doesn’t matter to recover disability compensation or qualify for other VA benefits.
The VA does not include the date of the trigger or traumatic event in considering whether you qualify for disability benefits. It only cares whether you can provide sufficient evidence to receive service connection.
To get VA disability compensation for delayed onset PTSD, you will likely have to follow the same process as other Veterans with any type of PTSD.
Specifically, you should:
The stronger you can make your disability benefits application, the higher the disability rating you may receive. You’ll also need to sit for a Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam, at which point a VA-appointed physician or psychiatrist will examine you to examine your symptoms and their severity.
If your initial benefits application for delayed onset PTSD is denied, Berry Law can help you appeal that decision. Furthermore, our team can help you appeal a low disability rating if you believe it doesn’t accurately reflect the severity of your delayed onset PTSD symptoms.
An initial denial is not necessarily the end of your journey; it could just indicate you need to provide additional evidence, for example.
If you qualify for VA disability compensation for your delayed onset PTSD, you will receive a disability rating between 0% and 100%, depending on severity.
For example, if you have suicidal ideation, you may receive a disability rating of 70%. Your disability rating will be the same for delayed onset PTSD as it would be for “regular” PTSD. Again, the VA does not care when you develop PTSD symptoms, just whether those symptoms are due to your military service in some capacity.
Here’s a breakdown of the disability ratings you may receive:
If you or a loved one are Veterans who experience delayed onset PTSD, you qualify for disability benefits. If you need help appealing a denial, increasing your rating, or appealing an effective date, knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys like Berry Law can help.
Our experienced legal specialists can help you understand the process from start to finish. More importantly, we’ll help you grasp just what benefits you qualify for and the level of compensation you may receive for your delayed onset PTSD. Contact us today to learn more.
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