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How Does the VA Determine a 10% Rating for PTSD?

 

I spoke to a client the other day who was asking about PTSD. He is currently 0% and wants an increase. I let him know there are certain criteria you have to meet in order to be granted at a higher percentage. As with any increase we file, there has to be enough evidence to warrant an increase.

AlexPTSD is a disability that the VA can rate between0-100 percent, depending upon your symptoms. For a Veteran who is connected at 10% for PTSD through the VA, he/she will likely have the following symptoms: Occupational and social impairment due to mild or transient symptoms which decrease work efficiency and ability to perform occupational tasks only during periods of significant stress, or; symptoms controlled by continuous medication.

This particular client also had a GAF score was between 81-90. A GAF score in this range is likely to indicate the following: Absent or minimal symptoms ( e.g., mild anxiety before an exam ), good functioning in all areas, interested and involved in a wide range of activities, socially effective, generally satisfied with life, no more than everyday problems or concerns (e.g., an occasional argument with family members )

This particular client met these criteria, and, after reviewing his records, we would likely file for an increase. Evidence is one of the most important things we need when filing for an increase on an existing claim. Evidence must be presented to warrant an increase. The Veteran usually states that his condition has worsened and the VA schedules an exam. Other evidence also may be considered.  Our reviewers are specially trained to recognize this evidence.

We understand how confusing this can be for anyone to go through alone. So many Veterans turn toJan Dils Attorneys at Law because we have the knowledge and the ability to navigate through the VA Disability Claims process. Our friendly staff is always willing to answer questions you may have about eligibility, so feel free to give us a call: 1-877-526-3457. Or Tell us about your case.

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What is a GAF Score?

When it comes to a PTSD rating, many Veterans are not aware that their GAF score plays an important part in how the VA decides their claim. You may be asking, “What is a GAF Score?” While a GAF Score can be somewhat complicated to assess, the explanation of what it means is actually quite simple.

GAF stands for Global Assessment of Functioning Scale. The GAF Scale is utilized by a clinician to measure a Veteran’s overall level of functioning and his/her ability to carry out activities of daily living and functioning. This information is useful in planning treatment, measuring its impact, and predicting conclusion.

The Global Assessment of Functioning Scale is a 100-point scale that measures a Veteran’s overall level of psychological, social, and occupational functioning on a hypothetical continuum, with 100 measuring very minimal limits to daily functioning and 0 indicating that the individual is having severe difficult with daily activities and functions.

The scale below illustrates what is typical in each range along the scale. This scale was provided By Michigan State University:

100-91 Superior functioning in a wide range of activities, life’s problems never seem to get out of hand, is sought out by others because of his or her many positive qualities. No symptoms.

90-81 Absent or minimal symptoms (e.g., mild anxiety before an exam), good functioning in all areas, interested and involved in a wide range of activities. Socially effective, generally satisfied with life, no more than everyday problems or concerns (e.g., an occasional argument with family members).

80-71 If symptoms are present, they are transient and expectable reactions to psychosocial stressors (e.g., difficulty concentrating after family argument); no more than slight impairment in social, occupational or school functioning (e.g., temporarily failing behind in schoolwork).

70-61 Some mild symptoms (e.g. depressed mood and mild insomnia) OR some difficulty in social, occupational, or school functioning (e.g., occasional truancy, or theft within the household), but generally functioning pretty well, has some meaningful interpersonal relationships.

60-51 Moderate symptoms (e.g., flat affect and circumstantial speech, occasional panic attacks) OR moderate difficulty in social, occupational, or school functioning (e.g.. few friends, conflicts with peers or co-workers).

50-41 Serious symptoms (e.g.. suicidal ideation, severe obsessional rituals, frequent shoplifting) OR any serious impairment in social, occupational, or school functioning (e.g., no friends, unable to keep a job).

40-31 Some impairment in reality testing or communication (e.g., speech is at times illogical, obscure, or irrelevant) OR major impairment in several areas, such as work or school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood (e.g., depressed man avoids friends, neglects family, and is unable to work; child frequently beats up younger children, is defiant at home, and is failing at school).

30-21 Behavior is considerably influenced by delusions or hallucinations OR serious impairment in communication or judgment (e.g., sometimes incoherent, acts grossly inappropriately, suicidal preoccupation) OR inability to function in almost all areas (e.g., stays in bed all day; no job, home, or friends).

20-11 Some danger of hurting self or others (e.g., suicide attempts without clear expectation of death; frequently violent; manic excitement)  OR occasionally fails to maintain minimal personal hygiene (e.g., smears feces) OR gross impairment in communication (e.g., largely incoherent or mute).

10-1 Persistent danger of severely hurting self or others (e.g., recurrent violence) OR persistent inability to maintain minimal personal hygiene OR serious suicidal act with clear expectation of death.

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What if I’ve been Service Connected for Twenty Years?

Has your service-connected disability evaluation been assigned for over 20 years, or are you nearing your 20-year mark for the evaluation? Are you wanting to file an increase on this issue but afraid of facing a decrease?  Well, there are some important things to understand once you reach this mark and how it affects your service connected disability evaluation.  Most Veterans do not know or understand if a particular issue has been evaluated at a particular level for 20 years or more that they are, according to VA.gov, “locked-in” on that rating and it can never be decreased. This means your disability evaluation has shown for the past 20 years that it has been consistently the same or worse and has not gotten better over time.

Now there is one circumstance that can cause you to lose your service connection or rating, and that is if the VA proves that you have been fraudulent in your claim. Other than that, it cannot be decreased in the future. For example, let’s say you are service connected on your left knee for 30 percent and you have had that same rating for the past 20 years. This means that if you decide to file for an increase on the disability, then it will not be decreased below the 30 percent mark. You might stay at 30 percent or get an increaseAlexe, maybe to 50 percent; however, you will not receive a rating below 30 or lose service connection all together.

 Now, to ensure you meet the 20-year mark, check with the VA or look at a previous rating decision to see the date of the grant and the date of a particular evaluation.  If it does not meet the 20-year mark, then you will be susceptible to re-examination and this could result in a decrease if the VA finds your disability has gotten better. So it is very important to check your rating dates before filing an increase.

If at any point you are unsure about your disabilities, ratings, and/or grant dates, then feel free to contact us at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, and we will be more than happy to take a look at your file. You can find us at www.fight4vets.com or call us at 1-877-VETERAN.

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How Does an Attorney Obtain Your Records?

One of the first steps we take when we get a new client is to obtain all of their military records. We request these from the Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office. Some clients have wondered why this is a time consuming process.

If the veteran has filed a claim but it is now inactive the file is retired to Records Management Center (RMC). This is a storage facility for the Department of Veterans Affairs. RMC receives over 300,000 inactive claims folders annually from VA Regional Offices. The RMC’s storage area houses over 3.1 million claims folders and over 2.9 million separate Service Treatment Records. An average of over 1,800 claims folders and service treatment records are shipped daily to Regional Offices.

 If the claimant has never filed a claim then all of their military records are housed at The National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR). Both of these facilities are located in St. Louis, Mo. At NPRC-MPR they store millions of military personnel, health, and medical records of discharged and deceased veterans of all services during the 20th century. (Records prior to WWI are in Washington, DC.) NPRC (MPR) also stores medical treatment records of retirees from all services, as well as records for dependent and other persons treated at naval medical facilities.  They receive approximately 5,000 requests a day. All files at the facility are permanent paper files never to be destroyed and there are currently 80 million records on file. On July 12, 1973 a major fire of mainly the top floor destroyed approximately 1/3 of its 52 million official military personnel files. The National Archives focused its immediate attention on salvaging as much as possible. To this day they still have a Conservation Lab whose main priority is to put the pieces they have of the record back together and conserve as much as possible.

There are several different ways you can request your files and we understand how some of them can be confusing. This is just one of the many obstacles we can help you overcome here at Jan Dils Attorneys at Law. We have the knowledge, and the ability to navigate through the VA Disability Claims process. Our friendly staff is always willing to answer questions you may have, so feel free to give us a call: 1-877-526-3457.

 

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Can I Service Connect for Alzheimer’s Disease?

As you may have learned from our previous VA Disability Benefits blogs, a Veteran is eligible for compensation if he or she can prove that injuries or mental conditions can be tied to service. While some conditions occur during service, others may show up shortly after discharge. A number of these conditions may qualify as presumptives (usually categorized by what era or theatre in which the Veteran served).

Like a number of other mental and physical illnesses, the VA may not service connect Alzheimer’s disease unless diagnosed in service. At this point in time, there is no known way to link a Veteran’s time in the service with this illness. However, one thing to count on is that laws do change over time and this may not be the case in the future for Veterans suffering from this disease.

If you have questions about what issues qualify for compensation from the VA, contact Jan Dils Attorneys at Law at 1-877-526-3457. Our knowledgeable staff will be glad to help you through this complicated process

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What is a Rating of Disability?

If you’ve been approved for VA Disability, you will receive a “Rating of Disability.” This will be a percentage between 0 and 100, and will be an increment of 10. A rating of zero percent means the VA has determined that your injury or illness is service-related, but it may not be severe enough to qualify for monetary compensation. However, a zero percent rating also means that if your disability worsens, you may be eligible at a later date to receive compensation. Even if you have a zero percent rating, you can receive medical treatment at any VA medical facility for that disability.

If you have multiple disabilities, each disability will be rated separately. However, your benefit amount will be based upon the combined result of all your disabilities. This combined result is calculated by adding a portion of additional disability percentages to the rating of your most serious disability. However, VA math is not “normal” math, and a 20% disability plus a 30% disability will not equal a 50% disability. Instead, it will be adjusted as a portion. Your notice of eligibility will include your total disability rating, which will always be rounded off to the nearest ten percent (10%, 20%, 30%, etc.).

If you have received a rating percentage that you are not satisfied with, or you are curious about filing for new claims, give our office a call for a free phone consultation. Our Toll Free Number is:1-877-526-3457. Also, you can check us out on line at www.fight4vets.com Or tell us about your claim now.

 

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What is Pension in the VA?

What exactly is Pension, you might ask? VA Pension is a cash benefit paid to a wartime Veteran or to their surviving spouses who have limited income and net worth. Ask yourself these 6 questions and if you meet all of the requirements, then you are eligible: Are you a veteran who served at least 90 days? Did you serve at least 1 day in wartime? Was your discharge other than dishonorable? What is your income and net worth? How old are you? If you are under 65, are you permanently and totally disabled?

Income is deducted dollar for dollar from the maximum amount of benefits a Veteran may be paid. The income from all family members is countable. This will include earnings, social security, disability, and/or retirement benefits, interest and dividends, and net income if self-employed.  The income limit varies between each Veteran. If he/she is a Veteran and is without a spouse or a child, the limit is $11,830. If the veteran has one dependent, the income limit will be $15,493. If housebound and without a dependent, the limit is $14,457, and with one dependent the limit is $18,120. If the veteran is alone and happens to need aid and attendance, the income limit will be $19,736, but if they have one dependent the limit will be $23,396.

A Veteran must fall under one of these dates of wartime and must have served at least 1 day active duty. World War I (April 5, 1917-September 12, 1918), World War II (December 7, 1941-December 31, 1946), Korean Conflict (June 27, 1950- January 31, 1955), Vietnam Era (February 28, 1961-May 7, 1975), Persian Gulf War (August 2, 1990-Present).

The pension is calculated by adding up all of the household’s income. It can be extremely difficult to figure out and grasp the concept of pension and also can be very confusing at times. That is why so many Veterans seek the legal help of attorneys like the ones at Jan Dils Attorneys at Law. We have the people, knowledge, and resources to help you get the benefits you deserve. For a free phone consultation, give us a call at 1-877-526-3457.

 

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Jan Dils Bio

Jan

Jan Dils graduated from Marietta College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in both Marketing and Economics. She then went on to receive her Masters in Business Administration in 1991, and her law degree from West Virginia University in 1994. That same year, she was admitted to the West Virginia Bar, and began practicing in Parkersburg. The focal point of her practice has been helping clients with Social Security, Veteran’s Benefits and Personal Injury Law. Jan is a sustaining member of the National Association of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR).

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What is a DD-214?

A DD214 “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty” is the form normally issued when a Veteran completes a period of active duty service.

Some of the information this form shows are the entrance and separation dates of active duty, total active duty service, character of discharge (i.e., honorable, under honorable conditions, general, under other than honorable conditions, etc.), narrative reason for separation (i.e., completion of required service, physical disability, retirement, etc.), primary specialty in service, and severance pay.  Sometimes the form will show where and when overseas service was performed.  This form usually lists decorations, medals, badges, citations and campaign ribbons awarded or authorized.  However, the official verified list of these awards is in the Veteran’s military personnel file.

The information on this form helps us to have an idea of benefits for which you may be entitled.       

If you are confused about your discharge, or if you have any questions about the VA Disability process, don't hesitate to give our office a call. 1-877-526-3457. Or, tell us about your claim now.

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