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PTSD benefits for sexual assault low in military

Data released on Nov. 7 showed that military personnel in Pennsylvania who claim that they acquired post-traumatic stress disorder due to verbal or physical sexual assault might struggle in their effort to receive benefits. The Service Women's Action Network and the American Civil Liberties Union researched the topic of sexual violence when it came to receiving workers' compensation in the form of veterans' disability benefits.

The report indicates this group faces an uphill climb when they apply for benefits and face further discrimination when they look for payment for their treatment. The study analyzed data from the Department of Veterans Affairs that shows at least a six-percentage point gap in claimants receiving health care or disability benefits after sexual trauma compared to PTSD claims based on other reasons. The department has stated that it is committed to helping veterans who have suffered from sexual trauma, adding that education and training have contributed to the numbers in this group who have gotten disability benefits.

Recent statistics show that the gap is narrowing. In 2012, 56.8 percent of the claims for sexual trauma were approved, compared to only 30 percent in 2008. Approval rates for all forms of PTSD claims increased as well,but varied significantly by city. St. Paul, Minnesota, Detroit and St. Louis had low rates while offices including Nashville and Los Angeles showed higher rates.

When military personnel suffer physical or emotional injuries as a result of their service, they may be eligible for benefits. An attorney may be able to help a client determine the requirements for filing and perfecting a claim.

Source: CNN, "Report: Troops filing sexual trauma claims less likely to get PTSD benefits", Greg Botelho, November 07, 2013

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