I have just gotten my award letter which rated me 30% for PTSD. However they denied my claim for major depression. They stated two things in the letter, that I told the examining official that I had depression prior to active service and that I was not diagnosed with depression until I had been off active federal service for almost one year.
What I actually told the VA doctor is that I had regular depression prior to my deployment to Iraq.
I have talked to a lawyer friend about this (he is familiar with VA and disability claims) and he states that I should try to have the PTSD increased because of the depression instead of getting the depression service connected. I feel that the 30% is accurate (at least with the Zoloft I am now one) and that the major depression should be a seperate service connection. If anyone has any experience with anything like this please feel free to offer advice. I have also talked to my local VSO and they say it is my decision to make.
Going for an increased award for PTSD would be more appropriate, as depression and PTSD are linked, it may or may not lower your current PTSD award to file for depression as a seperate service connection.
I'll be real honest here, saying that you had depression prior to going to Iraq, while still could end up being determined to be due to your previous service up that point, it will be very difficult to prove that it was not a pre-existing condition. And if they feel it was pre-existing, the issue becomes proving that it became worse while you were on active duty.
You can file a Notice of Disagreement, through your VSO, stating 1) that you feel your award is not accurate, and hope for an increase. 2)file a new claim for SC for depression.
It' really is your call -- but since you've been diagnosed with PTSD already, it will be difficult to prove that teh depression is a seperate entity -- and not part of the PTSD
I was diagnosed with major severe depression prior to my military discharge, due to some very traumatic things that occurred, but when I went to the VA, while they could see I was severely depressed, after several examination, and visits with my current doctor, it was clear what I had was PTSD, and not just depression.
Also, it's common that the examining doctor for your C&P misquote what you say, because often times they are busier writing, and answering their checklist questions, than listening fully to what you are saying. This happened to me on my re-evaluation for PTSD, where one of the SEVERAL things the unqualified person wrote was "veteran has received a degree since the diagnosis of PTSD" -- which was totally incorrect -- I received my degree before i was even on active duty.
That erroneous statement went a long way to almost getting my benefits reduced. We proved it was in correct, and I was rated 70% SC, with 30% IU for a total of 100% perm / total by the rater with whom I had the hearing. It was clear to him, thanks to my statements, evidence and the presentation by my VSO, that the C&P was mostly incorrect, and didn't present the whole picture of my medical / psychological status.
Thanks for the advice it is greatly appreciated. Sad to hear that I am not the only one who was misquoted during the evaluation.
My situation is kinda of unique because I am still working at a very good federal job at the moment. I am also still in the national guard and trying to finish my last five years so that I can get the retirment. So I don't necessarily feel I am not 70% due to PTSD. I think 30% for PTSD and 30% of Major Depression is more accurate of my condition.
You say you told the examiner that you'd depression before service. Is this in your service medical records? Your MEPS records? Because servicemen are given a presumption of good health (soundness) before entering service unless it can be shown otherwise. This is law in Title 38. Sorry I don't know the exact cite at this time. Just know that your lay statements of preservice depression are invalid. Lay medical statements have no merit in Title 38.
That is to say your lay statements can't be used against you at claim. Rather the VA has to show that you were definitively diagnosed with depression preservice. Know that to breach the presumption of preservice soundness is one of the most burdensome hurdles the VA has. Unless there's a diagnosis of depression in your preservice medical records the VA isn't lawfully allowed to make any statement otherwise (even though they do all the time).
Now if depression is indeed preservice you still may claim that your service connected condition (PTSD) aggravates a preexisting condition (Depression). Or that your PTSD aggravates any other condition (even those that aren't service connected). Again these are Title 38 laws the cites of which I don't have at this time.
You definitely want your depression rated seperately. It's a seperate condition is it not? Therefore there's different clinical indications aside from PTSD to achieve a rating. PTSD is evaluated differently then depression in ratings.
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I had the same thing happen to me. I have been 100% but not P&T for 5 years. Last year I asked my status as two exams had been canceled (not scheduled) by the RO, and I had no exam scheduled and by the rules that is P&T. They turned around and scheduled an exam and left it temp, but did not schedule another exam. I am working to document that it should be permanent.
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