Veterans Groups Sue VA Over Disability Claims Process

Jul 31, 2014

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Two veterans groups have sued the federal VA for a policy they say discriminates against thousands of veterans with PTSD who endured rape, sexual assault or harassment during their service. 

Yale's Veterans Legal Services Clinic is representing Service Women's Action Network and the Vietnam Veterans of America in their lawsuit. Last summer, both groups had asked the VA to change its policy that cites specific evidence a veteran needs to have to seek disability compensation for PTSD that was caused by military sexual trauma.

SWAN's Executive Director, Anu Bhagwati said the groups are now suing the VA because the federal department recently refused to make any changes to its claims process. "VA military sexual trauma claims policy fails veterans," Bhagwati said. "VA knows its policy is broken, but refuses to budge. "

SWAN said woman veterans submit the vast majority of MST-related PTSD claims. The VA refuses, however, to accept the survivors' testimony alone to establish eligibility for compensation. The group said the result is that the VA continues to deny MST-related disability compensation claims at a significantly higher rate than other PTSD claims.  

The lawsuit argues that current VA rules unconstitutionally discriminate against service members based on gender, and violates equal protection under the law.

The VA has said its current policies allow for accurate and fair adjudication.

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