Friday, October 19, 2012

Regulation regarding verification of PTSD stressors upheld

          The Federal Circuit issued an opinion in National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, upholding the validity of the revised version of 38 C.F.R. 3.304(f), which is the regulation governing verification of PTSD stressors. Specifically, this regulation says

If a stressor claimed by a veteran is related to the veteran's fear of hostile military or terrorist activity and a VA psychiatrist or psychologist, or a psychiatrist or psychologist with whom VA has contracted, confirms that the claimed stressor is adequate to support a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder and that the veteran's symptoms are related to the claimed stressor, in the absence of clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, and provided the claimed stressor is consistent with the places, types, and circumstances of the veteran's service, the veteran's lay testimony alone may establish the occurrence of the claimed in-service stressor.

The issue with this regulation was that it required stressor verification to come by a VA psychiatrist or psychologist only – and NOT from a private doctor. The Court upheld this regulation as reasonable. 

(posted to January 2012)

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