Many veterans have questions about VA PTSD benefits. One question veterans ask me fairly often goes something like this:
“I now have PTSD, or I think I do, but I’ve been out of the service for 20 or 30 years. Can I win a VA claim for PTSD or is it too late?”
PTSD is a unique mental condition. You have a traumatic event at one point in time. Then, the symptoms typically develop later on
The symptoms may develop years or even decades after the traumatic event. For example, a Vietnam veteran may develop PTSD and have difficulty dealing with what he saw and experienced in war even today
Do I have to have chronicity or continuity of symptoms?
PTSD works different than some other service-connected disabilities. For example, you may have filed a claim for an orthopedic condition or something like that. In making a decision on your claim, VA may have denied you on the grounds that you did not show evidence of a continuity of symptoms or chronicity.
That does not apply with PTSD. It is accepted in the medical community that individuals developing PTSD often have “delayed onset”. This means you can experience the traumatic event (also known as a “stressor”) and seem fine afterwards. Then, you have some trigger later on cause you to have symptoms of PTSD.
When should I file my PTSD claim?
While you do not have to file your claim immediately, you probably will want to do so. You generally will want to preserve your earliest “effective date” for benefits. Filing your claim or filing an intent to file can help you do this.
If you do not file for a year, then you may give up a year of retroactive VA benefits when you win your claim. Again, this is because of the idea of “effective date”. You probably want to receive all the benefits you should receive. Filing earlier makes it more likely you will receive those.
What if I have other questions about VA PTSD benefits?
Most people do have questions about the VA process. We try to provide helpful information through our Win Your Vet Claim Blog. You might find it helpful to read this article I wrote that talks about how to prove PTSD to VA.
Of course, many times the specific facts of your case will matter. In this situation, the best way to get questions answered is through a veterans benefits consultation. Our firm provides free consultations to veterans. To find out how to set one up, just read this short article that explains how a free consultation works.