In response to calls for easier VA claims process for sexual assault victims, VA has relaxed its evidence rules in sexual trauma cases. VA now recognizes that official records — including law enforcement, medical, and personnel reports — might not contain information to verify a disability claim. VA officials have said they are willing to take another look at denied benefits claims for military sexual assault victims.
Thomas Murphy, director of VA’s compensation service, said the department now accepts statements from family members, roommates, clergy, other service members, and sexual assault coordinators and victim advocates when official records don’t corroborate a claim. VA also could accept evidence of behavioral changes, Murphy said, such as a transfer request, a sudden drop in work performance, substance abuse, depression, panic attacks and other behavior.
There are many examples of discrimination against sexual assault victims and women when it comes to receiving disability benefits for post-traumatic stress, said Anu Bhagwati of the Service Women’s Action Network. A review of VA records shows one in three claims are approved for post-traumatic stress related to sexual trauma, compared to one in two of all other post-traumatic stress claims, Bhagwati said. Additionally, women seeking disability pay for post-traumatic stress “were more likely to receive a 10 to 30 percent rating and men were more likely to receive a 70 to 100 percent disability rating,” she said.
Were You Denied Benefits for PTSD Related to Sexual Assault?
If you have been denied benefits for PTSD related to a sexual assault or believe you have been under-rated, please contact Bosley & Bratch for help.