Mst Denied Claims Review Process
During a 2012 congressional hearing in which the Veterans Affairs Administration conceded that errors were being made in the adjudication of military sexual trauma claims, I asked forand receivedan agreement that any previously denied MST claim could be reviewed for accuracy. My request came after hearing from countless veterans whose claims had been inappropriately denied and who had suffered for years while their claims worked their way through the appeal process before they received the benefits they had earned and deserved.
Starting in 2013, the Veterans Benefits Administration provided guidance to VA regional offices stating that any previously denied Post Traumatic Stress Disorder claim resulting from MST could be reopened and reviewed based on a claimant simply submitting a request. The reviews were focused on whether acceptable secondary evidence was overlooked in deciding individual claims.
Military Sexual Trauma And Va Benefits
Awareness of Military Sexual Trauma or MST is on the rise as more veterans, not just female veterans, are filing MST related VA Disability Claims. There are plenty of questions surrounding VA benefits for MST and how to even go about filing a claim for compensation. Dealing with the effects of MST along with trying to figure out the VA claims process is certainly not easy. In this blog post, we will discuss how you can prove MST, how to file a claim, as well as the benefits that may be available to you.
How To Get A 100% Va Rating For Ptsd Caused By Mst
Are you eligible for a 100% VA Rating for PTSD Caused by MST?
It is estimated that 1/4 women veterans and 1/100 male veterans experienced MST, according to the DAV. With this alarming statistic, it is crucial to know what to do to get a VA rating for Military Sexual Trauma and PTSD today. If you have PTSD as a result of MST, we are here to help you get the disability rating you deserve. In this article, you will learn exactly how to get a 100% VA rating for PTSD caused by MST.
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Service Connecting Ptsd For Military Sexual Trauma
Berry LawMilitary Sexual Assault
PTSD is one of the most common disabilities our Veterans experience. It can be debilitating and cause huge changes in a Veterans life. Unfortunately, a common PTSD trigger some Veterans experience during service is Military Sexual Trauma . However, Veterans do have the right to pursue VA disability benefits for any disability that resulted from MST, including PTSD.
Rob Levine Is Here To Help Those Suffering From Military Sexual Trauma
Military Sexual Trauma happens to service members at alarming rates, and often causes PTSD. The VA defines MST as psychological trauma resulting from a physical assault of a sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment which occurred while the veteran was serving on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training. And the VA defines sexual harassment as repeated, unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature which is threatening in character. These experiences affect veterans mental and physical health, even many years later.
MST is a qualifying stressor that can establish service connection for a PTSD claim. You did not have to report the MST when it occurred, and no official service record documentation is required. Nevertheless, the VA often fails to recognize the signs of Military Sexual Trauma in any veterans service record. The attorneys at Rob Levine & Associates know exactly how to overcome these challenges while assisting you professionally and compassionately. Please call us today for a free case evaluation.
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What Other Resources Can I Take Advantage Of To Get Help In The Review Process
Veterans service organizations can assist veterans in filing their VA claims, appealing denied claims, and advocating for a review of previously denied PTSD claims following MST. Contact your local organizations to see how they may be able to help you.
Elements Of Your Claim
Military sexual trauma is sexual harassment that is threatening or physical assault of a sexual nature. Both men and women serving in the military can suffer from MST. MST is an experience, not a diagnosis. MST may cause disabling conditions such as post traumatic stress disorder , anxiety, depression and sexual arousal disorder. Your claim for VA Disability Compensation must identify at least one disabling condition. The VA addresses MST differently than other issues because of its severity and complexity.To win an MST claim you will need the following:
1. A Completed VA Form 21-526 2. Diagnosis of PTSD, anxiety, or depression from your healthcare provider.3. Nexus Letter/Independent Medical Opinion signed by your doctor.4. Evidence
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Mental Health Conditions Associated With Mst Claims
Military sexual trauma is a frequent cause of post-traumatic stress disorder . Studies show that those with a history of military sexual trauma are also significantly more likely than other veterans to experience depression, anxiety,substance abuse, and homelessness.
Women veterans who have experienced MST are over twice as likely as other women veterans to become homeless after leaving the military. About 40% of female survivors of MST have experienced homelessness at some point after discharge.
Top 5 Things To Know About Mst Veteran Benefits
Tragically, Military Sexual Trauma is a prevalent reality in the military, but you CAN get the MST veteran benefits that you deserve by law. To help you get the compensation and other benefits that you are entitled to, weve put together a Top 5 list of things you need to know to file a claim for MST veteran benefits.
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Access To Va Health Care And Counseling
Even if you are unable to get disability compensation or your application is in process, you are still entitled to counseling and other health care services for any medical issues that are related to your sexual assault. The VA has become increasingly aware of the widespread problem of military sexual trauma and has increased resources to address it.
What Evidence Do I Need To Receive Va Benefits For A Military Sexual Trauma
Sexual assault and sexual harassment occur all too frequently in the U.S. military. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs defines military sexual trauma as threatening, repetitive sexual harassment or sexual assault, including rape. According to the VA, significant numbers of female and male veterans have suffered sexual assault during their military servicenearly one in five females and one in 100 males.
While sexual assault and rape are the most common form of MST, the VA includes other types of trauma in this category, including:
- Pressure to engage in any type of sexual activity that has implied benefits
- Pressure to engage in any type of sexual activity under the threat of negative consequences
- The inability of a person to consent to any type of sexual activity
- Any type of unwanted sexual touching
- Any type of unwanted or threatening sexual advances
- Any type of offensive or objectionable remarks about the body or sexual behavior of any military person
Military personnel can experience an MST while on duty or off and while on base or off. Because the person responsible for the assault may be a colleague or teammate who works in the same service area, may have control over the victims service career and promotions, or may live in the same barracks, the victim may have heightened fears of helplessness and worry about the possibility that the attack will happen again.
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% Rating: Total Occupational And Social Impairment From Ptsd Due To Mst
- gross impairment in thought processes or communication
- persistent delusions or hallucinations grossly inappropriate behavior
- persistent danger of hurting self or others
- intermittent inability to perform activities of daily living
- disorientation to time or place
- memory loss for names of close relatives, own occupation, or own name
Can You Get Service
The VA does not pay benefits for MST on its own. But if the traumatic event leads to PTSD, or to other disabling conditions, then you may be able to get VA disability compensation for that. You must demonstrate a service connection to the PTSD and/or other disabling conditions in order to receive benefits.
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The American Legion Takes Aim At Inequity In Claims Approvals For Mst Survivors
The American Legion called upon the Department of Veterans Affairs to address the inequity in claims approvals for survivors of Military Sexual Trauma in a House Committee on Veterans Affairs subcommittee hearing on Nov. 17.
One in four military women and one in 50 military men will be sexually assaulted during their time in service. Forty percent of those who reported MST ultimately had their claims improperly denied. Katie Purswell, the director of The American Legions National Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division, says that VA is long overdue for an intervention.
We are trained and conditioned to trust the people to our left and our right, she told lawmakers. We would even take a life or set down our own to protect them. These people are our family.
So why, asked Purswell, do we turn a blind eye or victim blame when a member of our family is sexually assaulted? Women are asked what they did to encourage the assault, she said. And men are asked why they didnt fight to stop it from happening in the first place.
Veterans turn to VA for care and support as they transition off active duty. When filing a claim for MST, a veteran must first declare they have post-traumatic stress disorder from the event. Purswell says this forces a veteran to minimize their experience and can cause them to turn away from VA.
MST does not have its own disability questionnaire, she said. It falls under PTSD as a stressor, not its own ratable condition.
What Has The Va Sent To Veterans Regarding The Review
In 2013, the VA sent a letter to some veterans whose MST-related PTSD claim had been denied after 2012. The letter conceded that, in some cases, appropriate evidence had been overlooked. The option is still available for a veteran to request that the VBA review a previously denied claim for PTSD resulting from sexual trauma.
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Military Sexual Trauma Va Claims: Potential Evidence & Liberalized Considerations
Fortunately, VA has recognized after significant prodding from lawmakers and veterans advocates that it is unreasonable to expect all MST survivors to have direct documentation of their traumatic event, given the difficulty of reporting.
As a result, the evidence standard for establishing the stressor in certain types of PTSD claims has been liberalized . VA allows the claimant to use a wide range of evidence to indicate the event occurred. Since VA adjudicators do not always accurately follow these more liberal standards, it is important to be aware of them in case an appeal is necessary.
MST-related PTSD claims fall under the personal assault category of PTSD. For claims that fall under this category, objective documentation of the actual stressor is not necessary.
VA guidelines instruct the adjudicators of military sexual trauma claims to look beyond the claimants military records. As a matter of law, the veterans failure to report the event at the time cannot be used against them.
What Kind Of Errors Have Been Made
In 2002, the VA conceded that most survivors of MST do not report their experiences and thus, evidence in official military records is rare. At that time, evidence standards for these claims was relaxed to include secondary evidence or markers of trauma for those diagnosed with PTSD. In most instances, inappropriate denials were the result of the VA overlooking this secondary evidence or markers, which include, but are not limited to:
- Records from law enforcement authorities, rape crisis centers, mental health counseling centers, hospitals, or physicians.
- Pregnancy tests or tests for sexually transmitted diseases.
- Statements from family members, roommates, fellow Servicemembers, clergy members, or counselors.
- Request for transfer to another military duty assignment.
- Evidence of deterioration in work performance.
- Substance abuse.
- Episodes of depression, panic attacks, or anxiety without an identifiable cause.
- Unexplained economic or social behavioral changes.
- Relationship issues, including multiple failed relationships, divorce, or the inability to be in relationships.
- Sexual problems, including erectile dysfunction or female sexual interest/arousal disorder.
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Can I Get Disability Compensation For Mst
You are eligible for veterans disability compensation on the basis of military sexual trauma if you can prove:
- you had an incident of military sexual trauma while on active duty
- you are currently diagnosed with a mental or physical disability, and
- your disabilities were caused by, or were worsened by, the military sexual trauma you suffered in service.
You cannot receive compensation on the basis of military sexual trauma alone. You must have a compensable health condition, such as post-traumatic stress disorder , depression, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and substance abuse.
Sometimes veterans develop post-traumatic stress disorder more from the retaliation that occurs when they report the crime than by the sexual assault itself. This is especially true for those vets who served in prior wars, such as Vietnam, before there were any resources or recognition of these types of crimes.
Following the MST you suffered, if you were diagnosed with a personality disorder while in service, you will need to go to a VA doctor and describe all your symptoms so you can get a more accurate diagnosis. This is important to do because you cannot receive benefits for a diagnosis of personality disorder.
There Are Many Resources Available To Victims Of Mst
If youve experienced MST, there are many benefits available to you if you file a claim and it is accepted. The claim cannot be for MST on its own, but for any condition determined to be connected to the trauma.
Currently, most victims of MST file their claims for PTSD . We cover how to file for PTSD in the video below. We also cover how to get a VA disability rating increased for PTSD in this post.
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Service Connection For Ptsd Due To Mst
In general, service connection for PTSD requires:
- A current diagnosis of PTSD by a medical professional
- Evidence of an in-service stressor and
- A nexus, or link, between the current PTSD diagnosis and the in-service stressor.
In the case of PTSD resulting from MST, the stressor would be the military sexual trauma event.
Once service connection is established, VA will assign a rating based on the severity of the PTSD secondary to MST. This rating, ranging from 0 to 100 percent in increments of 10, will determine the veterans monthly compensation rate.
Need Help With Your Va Claim For Ptsd Caused By Mst
MST is a terrible reality for many veterans. It is a persistent problem and the effects this trauma has on its victims is still far from being fully understood.
While PTSD is one of the main conditions caused by MST, it can also cause depression, anxiety, and a number of other conditions. Today the VA is working better than ever with victims of MST to get them the benefits they deserve. If youd like further help with your claim, the team here at VA Claims Insider would be happy to assist you.
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How To File A Well Prepare Mst Claim
Filing Your ClaimDo not leave any of the required boxes blank DiagnosisNexus Letter/NoteEvidencecurrently in the serviceveryimportant
- establish the event ,
- prove that the event caused your condition, and
- prove that you still suffer from the condition.
only ifYou must complete a form for each medical facility you are trying to get records from.Important:
Proving Military Sexual Trauma Claims
by Chris Attig
The VA makes veterans corroborate Military Sexual Trauma if they claim PTSD related to a sexual assault or rape in service. For this reason, proving Military Sexual Trauma claims can be very difficult most of the time. This is one of the reasons I think the VA should establish a presumption that female service members were raped or sexually assaulted in service.
Think that is unreasonable? Heres why its not unreasonable to put the burden on MST victims for proving Military Sexual Trauma claims.
The VA presumes that certain medical conditions are caused by Agent Orange exposure the presumption is based on science showing that the rate of diagnosis of certain conditions is higher in Vietnam Veterans exposed to Agent Orange than in the regular population.
Given statistics that somewhere near 20-40% of all women are raped in military, that 26,000 rapes and sexual assaults occurred in the military in 2012 alone, and that 90% of military rapes are not reported, it seems that science shows that rape is currently a fact of life for women in the military.
The institutionalized rape of our soldiers men and women alike can stop only after Congress takes away the power of military commanders to decide important legal issues like the validity of rape allegations of their subordinates.
Until the VA decides to institute a presumption of rape, women who were raped in the military still have to corroborate their allegations of rape .
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