How to Get a Nexus Letter for PTSD

In most cases, in order for you to receive disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, you must provide a nexus letter from a physician or other licensed medical professional. This is true for any disability, including mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder.

 More commonly referred to as PTSD, this condition can have a debilitating effect on you and your quality of life. Elite Medical Review Associates is here to help you obtain the nexus letter you need to move your claim for disability benefits forward.

Are VA Benefits Available for PTSD?

Disability benefits through the VA are not limited to physical injuries. Emotional hardships—including PTSD—can also serve as the basis for a claim. If you have a formal diagnosis, you might be entitled to compensation.

 Of course, proving to the VA that you suffer from PTSD can be easier said than done. Unlike physical injuries, there are no obvious visual symptoms that you can point to that make it obvious you are living with this condition. The VA will, at times, deny claims when there is no clear link between your condition and a stressor that existed during your military service. Proving you have PTSD can take the guidance of experienced professionals.

 Veterans frequently struggle to prove the link between their mental health issues and their service time. This is often due to a culture that pushes you to tough things out and keep your struggles to yourself. The end result is often a lack of documentation of the issues that likely led to your PTSD in the first place.

What is a Nexus Letter?

When it comes to VA benefits, the term “nexus” is used to describe the link between your disabling condition and an event that occurred during your service. In order for you to recover the benefits you need, you must be able to establish that some event during your military career ultimately caused your PTSD.

 A nexus letter is a common way for veterans to prove this link. These letters are written by medical professionals with the sole purpose of establishing that you have been diagnosed with a disabling condition and that an in-service event had something to do with causing or worsening it.

 As important as these letters can be, it is possible that you could go through the entire claims process without ever hearing anyone with the VA utter the word “nexus letter.” While the VA has an obligation to assist you with your claim, they are known for frequently doing the bare minimum or using the duty to assist as merely a means to generate negative evidence against your claim. This usually involves having you complete an exam with a VA doctor or nurse and then forwarding their conclusion on to the claims adjuster.

 A nexus letter is written by an independent medical professional with experience diagnosing and treating the condition you are living with. When it comes to PTSD, that often includes psychiatrists, psychologists, and neurologists with an understanding of similar mental health issues.

What Should a Nexus Letter Include?

While these documents are referred to as “letters,” they generally go well beyond the one-page correspondence you might be envisioning. These letters typically go into great detail about your condition, your service, and how the two are likely related. While these letters should be concise, there is generally a lot of information to be covered. Some of the important elements include:

Background on the Medical Provider

These letters should make it clear that the person writing is qualified to evaluate you for PTSD. It should explain their qualifications, including their education, training, and work history. The medical professional should also spell out everything they reviewed before coming to their conclusion, including your medical and service records.  The nexus report should also recite the fact that the examiner reviewed the relevant portions of the claims file.

Supporting Rationale

The doctor who submits your letter will need to provide more than just their opinion. They will need to include a rationale or reasoning that shows that there is a connection between your service and your PTSD diagnosis. This could involve pointing to specific parts of your military or medical records. They might also rely on statements from people you served with, known as “buddy letters.” In addition to direct evidence related to your case, your doctor could also rely on journals or studies that support the conclusion that there is a nexus.

A Strong Conclusion

Ultimately, a nexus letter should come to the conclusion that your PTSD is linked to a service-related event in your past. While having a document that unambiguously states the nexus exists, it is important to at least reach the conclusion that it is at least as likely as not that your PTSD stems from your military service.

Are Nexus Letters Always Needed?

Not every disabled veteran will need a nexus letter in order to get the benefits they deserve. In many cases, the link between a disabling condition and an in-service event is impossible to deny. For example, burn injuries linked to an explosion during your active duty could speak for itself. Unfortunately, mental health issues like PTSD rarely fall into this category.

 One of the big challenges of securing benefits for PTSD is that there are no visible symptoms of mental health issues. What’s more, these issues might not develop for months or even years after your active duty comes to an end. At that point, the exact cause of your condition can become subjective.

 Nexus letters are most valuable in these kinds of circumstances. They provide claims adjusters in the VA with something tangible to tie your health condition to your past service. Having a nexus letter is likely to be a vital part of getting benefits for your PTSD.

Finding a Doctor to Write a Nexus Letter for PTSD

Unfortunately, finding a doctor who is able and willing to write a nexus letter can be more difficult than you realize. Many veterans opt to rely on the support of the VA during this process, but that approach can be problematic. VA doctors and nurse practitioners understand their role, and they act as gatekeepers for those seeking benefits. It is not uncommon for these medical professionals to do the bare minimum on a claim before giving their opinion that PTSD is not service-related.  Also, the VA’s doctors or psychologists may be biased in favor of VA since they work for VA.

 There are major benefits to seeking out the help of an independent physician or psychologist who is willing to write a nexus letter for PTSD. However, these medical professionals rarely advertise this service. Tracking down a doctor who is both willing to do the work and has experience treating PTSD among service members can be especially difficult.

 The best option for moving forward is to rely on experienced professionals to connect you with the right doctor. At Elite Medical Review Associates, we could connect you with experts who understand PTSD and are willing to write a nexus letter, including psychiatrists, neurologists, and other mental healthcare professionals.

It might not be too late to find a doctor to assist with your case, even if your original claim has already been denied. During an appeal, you have the opportunity to provide additional evidence that proves the nexus between your service and the PTSD you suffer from.

It is helpful to remember that not everyone has the same connections. You could benefit from discussing your case with a team who focuses its entire career on helping veterans get the benefits they deserve. Not only are they more likely to understand what you need, but they could also have connections with an array of mental health professionals to write your nexus letter.

Can a Buddy Letter Replace a Nexus Letter?

 So-called “buddy letters” do not serve the same purpose as nexus letters from a medical professional. Where nexus letters exist to tie a traumatic event during your service to a PTSD diagnosis, your buddy letter can help prove the traumatic event occurred in the first place.

 Before 2010, it was often challenging to prove that the event that led to your PTSD occurred in the first place. Veterans often had to provide testimony or evidence of a specific attack or battle, and the VA was not above denying claims based on a lack of evidence.

Currently, the VA takes a much more liberal approach when it comes to proof of in-service events when it involves fear of hostile or terrorist attack. However, a buddy letter could still be important if your PTSD occurs as the result of less obvious issues like an unreported sexual assault or an extended stay in an active warzone.

Seek Help with Your VA Appeal – Call Elite Medical Review Associates Today

Having your VA claim denied can be upsetting, but it is important to remember that you have an opportunity to file an appeal. For some people, a proper nexus letter for PTSD from an experienced medical care provider could result in having that denial overturned.

The team at Elite Medical Review Associates understands what it takes to get the best possible outcome on appeal. We are proud of our work on behalf of veterans, and we look forward to connecting you with the experts you need. Contact us today to learn more. 

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