Fraudulent PTSD claims clogging the system, stealing from those who need help

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Fraudulent PTSD claims clogging the system, stealing from those who need help

A thoroughly disconcerting article from the LA Times that Jonn Lilyea caught...

As disability awards for PTSD have grown nearly fivefold over the last 13 years, so have concerns that many veterans might be exaggerating or lying to win benefits. Moering, a former Marine, estimates that roughly half of the veterans he evaluates for the disorder exaggerate or fabricate symptoms.

PTSD disability

Depending on severity, veterans with PTSD can receive up to $3,000 a month tax-free, making the disorder the biggest contributor to the growth of a disability system in which payments have more than doubled to $49 billion since 2002.

"It's an open secret that a large chunk of patients are flat-out malingering," said Christopher Frueh, a University of Hawaii psychologist who spent 15 years treating PTSD in the VA system.


Oof.  Some of the stories are REALLY bad:

Even some veterans whose diagnosis falls under deep suspicion have managed to keep their disability ratings.

In one case that Moering reviewed in 2009, he searched military records and concluded that a Navy veteran on the disability rolls for PTSD had lied to VA clinicians about having served in the elite SEALs and concocted his combat history.

The VA responded by reducing his PTSD rating from 50% to 30%, records show.

I have a good buddy that received a Silver Star for service in Afghanistan.  He was having some trouble, so he decided to seek help and go to a group therapy session.  He only went once.  He said that fully 50 percent of the stories were obvious fakes.  It made him so mad he was in worse shape when he left, and basically felt so angry and sad that he's resolved never to go back.

I don't even know what to tell him.  He's trying to deal with something that is painful to him, and he finds others who basically wish they'd done the things he had. 

Jonn's take lays out my opinion as well:

[W]e’ve seen folks who claim that they have PTS because they were at 8th & I and saw the smoke from the Pentagon on 9/11. One fellow claims that he had PTS from listening to other combat veterans’ war stories. Yet another claimed that he has PTS because he DIDN’T deploy and he was worried about his unit while they deployed. Another claimed that he caught the PTSD from his drill sergeants. Beat your wife and kids? PTS made you do it. Rob a bank? PTSD caused it. Driving drunk? You were self-medicating for PTSD. Wear a Bronze Star Medal and a Green Beret you didn’t earn? PTS, dude. Did you watch a guy murder someone and didn’t report it to the police? Well….

PTS is hip and cool and the catch-all for all bad behavior. And all of the malingerers just keep the real cases that need to be treated away from the doctors and the stuff they need to cope with it, because who wants to be lumped in with the fakes and lazies who clog the system?

Fake PTS is probably far more common than Stolen Valor, because it’s easier to fake and less likely you’ll get caught, but just as shameful and much more hurtful to the veteran community, not to mention those folks who really do suffer from it and won’t seek treatment.

The VA isn't to blame here.  We all went to them and argued that claims for PTSD should streamlined, as the VA system is non-adversarial.  Unfortunately, what seems to be happening is that people are just claiming stuff I guess to get the money. 

The end result is that people who need the help won't get it, and the people who don't need it will be working hard to get their monthly checks.  It's just sad.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.