Recent mailbag comments
Reply to: Controversial PTSD evaluation policy
I definitely agree that an experienced Veterans Law Attorney can make a big difference. Note that the VBA puts a big, bright notice on a Veteran's C-file (claims file) when he or she is represented by legal counsel that says, "Attorney Case." That should tell ya something about the advantages of legal representation. ;o)
With regard to obtaining a nexus letter from a psychologist or psychiatrist in private practice, yes, that can help, especially if the doc knows what he or she is doing. Unfortunately most don't. They really need to know a lot about forensic mental health evaluations in general (btw, the term 'forensic' simply means "legally related" in this context), and PTSD evaluations for legal purposes specifically. Otherwise, their lack of expertise will show and their opinion will not be given a lot of weight by the VBA Rater (RSVR) or the Board of Veterans Appeals. That is why VBA will almost always ask for a C&P exam. The mental health C&P examiners (theoretically) have the requisite expertise. I say 'theoretically' because there is a lot of variability when it comes to C&P examiners due to the lack of in-depth training (the VA requires only an introductory online courses - better than nothing but hardly adequate); the lack of an effective QA (Quality Assurance) program; and the fact that a lot of examiners get only an hour or two to do exams - the VA's own guides and manuals recommend 3-4 hours for initial PTSD exams - but the bean counters force examiners to do 4, 5, or 6 exams a day to make them (the bean counters) look good to the big wigs at Central Office.
One minor correction to what Jim wrote--and he did point out that the info could change, and he wrote that 2+ years ago so I'm not ragging on the good Mr. Strickland--it does not have to be a psychiatrist who does the C&P exam, in fact, about 80% of mental health C&P exams are done by psychologists. The point is the VA will almost always require an official, VA-sanctioned C&P exam as part of the process. I say 'VA-sanctioned' because, as Jim points out elsewhere, a lot of C&P exams are done by psychologists and psychiatrists in private practice who work for private companies (QTC, VES, - there are 6 or 7 of them) who have contracts with VBA to provide C&P exams. In general, those private practitioners have even less training than the VA psych docs, 'in-house' QA programs (can you say "the fox is guarding the henhouse?"), and they don't have the advantage of consulting with other C&P examiners like you can at a typical VA C&P clinic and they don't know about things like the national mental health C&P examiners listserv (email discussion list), relevant books and articles in peer-reviewed journals, etc.
So yes, if you go out and ask a private practice psychologist or psychiatrist to do a PTSD evaluation, VA will still require a C&P exam, which will often be done by a private practice psychologist or psychiatrist (working for a contract company).
What? That seems contradictory?
This is the VA we're talking about. ;^]
Reply to: Veterans attorneys represent veterans when the veteran needs help with the VA
Very interesting topic and I do agree that most lawyers have specific cases that they like to work on. Awesome how a person can get a direct answer on this site. Thanks for the post.
Reply to: The basics on VA Disability Benefits
I think they need to listen to your demands since you have serve in our country. They have to do something about it because you deserve the best services both in medical and the thing you ask for like small time business and other Veterans services. I learn something in here.
Reply to: The basics on VA Disability Benefits
I am not a veteran myself yet my grandfather is one of them who have been longing for some assistance for his illnesses. Both in Medical and financial. My grand parent serve the country for 30 years. Now He had been experience lot of pain in his joints and weekly he must visit his medical professional. I think they should increase the benefits of these veterans.
Reply to: Prostate Cancer, CP Exams and Disability
This is a brief description of my recent experiences. I am a Viet Nam Army vet. After having a prostate biopsy following an increase in PSA readings, my urologist suggested continuing to monitor my PSA for the next 3-6 months. My Gleason was 3+3, with positive biopsy in 2 of 12 sites. I am 72 years old and have had 3 heart attacks in the last 17 years. I submitted my disability claim on Jan 14 and was awarded 100% Temporary Disability by March 15. I expect I will have a C & P exam next Fall sometime, but my plan at this time is to continue with the "Watchful Waiting."