Thursday, February 25, 2016

Paying People to Have PTSD: The VA Disability System

You know why these disability claims took off around 2005? It wasn't just the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In part it was because the Baby Boomer Vietnam Veterans realized that Social Security was not going to see them through a comfortable retirement.

by Chris Hernandez, via breachbangclear
“In every other clinical setting, PTSD is considered pretty easily treatable with a relatively short duration of exposure therapy. But in the VA, it’s disabling for life. We pay people to be sick, and to stay sick. If you wanted to create a perfect way to keep people from getting better, you’d invent the VA compensation system...
...Dr. Christopher Frueh (pronounced “Free”)...was a VA psychologist for fifteen years, from 1991 to 2006. He was quoted in a 2014 LA Times article about PTSD malingering...and has spoken out about massive fraud in the system for years.
The VA wasn’t too happy with Dr. Frueh. “I kept getting pushback for what I was saying about PTSD fraud,” Dr. Frueh said. “The VA even assigned a handler to monitor everything I said during interviews. Then they told me I couldn’t do interviews at all. Eventually, after fifteen years of trying to fix the problems and running into a brick wall, I left the VA.”
A big part of the VA’s anger at Frueh came from his accusation that the VA engages in “collusive lying” with veterans obviously faking PTSD. “Some veterans tell obvious lies, their documents don’t support their claimed trauma, their behavior doesn’t match their reported symptoms, their psychologist reports them as malingering, and the VA approves disability benefits anyway,” Frueh said. “Psychologists are ordered not to question even the most egregious fabrications. Nobody is willing to stand up to the uproar that would come from both political parties, and from VSOs, if we acknowledged what everyone already knows: a lot of veterans are lying about PTSD to get free money.”
Malingering causes real, measurable problems. Verified veterans with verified problems have stopped coming to treatment, especially group therapy, because they don’t want to be associated with the obvious posers. VA treatment programs can’t be measured for effectiveness because almost every patient, whether they’re getting better or not, claims their symptoms are worsening until their rating reaches 100%. According to one study, 82% of those who max out on disability then stop attending treatment. If their problem is so terrible they’re completely disabled, why suddenly stop getting help?
“The VA doesn’t want to face this,” Dr. Frueh said. “We’re employing very expensive PTSD treatments which our own stats say are ineffective. From clinical studies outside the VA, we know those [PTSD treatment] programs actually are effective. But within the VA, either these proven programs don’t work or patients are skewing the stats by lying about their symptoms. The VA doesn’t want to acknowledge that the treatment works, but a huge number of patients are lying.” Dr. Frueh discussed that problem in a 2014 Psychology Today article: “Another open secret among clinical trial investigators is that veterans often acknowledge to researchers that the treatment has helped them, but ask them not to document in the record for fear of losing disability.”"

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