A personality disorder, as defined by the Mayo Clinic, is a type of mental disorder that usually develops in the teen or early adult years, and is characteristic of a rigid and unhealthy pattern of behaving, thinking, and functioning. At first glance, the mere definition of personality disorder doesn’t seem to set off any alarms; however, in the veterans’ arena, personality disorders have been a hot button topic for many years, and for good reason.
There are 10 types of recognized personality disorders: paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality, narcissistic personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. When performing evaluations, mental health practitioners are supposed to evaluate symptoms, and then provide opinions and treatment recommendations for any diagnosed conditions, including personality disorders.
The problem for many veterans is that far too often, mental health practitioners associated with the military and/or the VA are misdiagnosing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and/or other conditions as personality disorder. This is extremely detrimental to veterans because personality disorders alone are generally not compensable through the VA disability system, on the basis of preexisting condition. There are additional detriments associated with a personality disorder diagnosis. According to a March of 2013 Stars and Stripes article, veterans who are discharged with personality disorder lose other important benefits, such as the ability to receive healthcare through the VA, and they lose the benefit of any veteran hiring priorities.
Unfortunately, all it takes in some cases is for one practitioner to state personality disorder alone, and the long-term fallout begins. In my practice, I have seen veterans diagnosed in-service with immature personality, behavior problems, adjustment problems, and other variations; however, the end result was a personality disorder diagnosis, which ultimately prevented the veteran from obtaining VA disability benefits. In some cases I will refer them to a personal injury attorney at http://bodifordlawgroupga.com
If you are a veteran who suffers from a mental condition and you are seeking VA compensation, whether or not you were diagnosed in service with personality disorder is very important. Veterans should also be aware that some VA compensation and pension examiners will diagnose personality disorder, despite all signs pointing otherwise.
The good news is that veterans who were denied VA compensation in the past due to personality disorder should not give up. It is often beneficial in these situations to obtain an independent medical opinion and/or have the private treating practitioner to evaluate whether or not personality disorder is actually present. It is usually best to get help from an experienced advocate to navigate the process for the long road ahead. The takeaway is that these situations can be certainly complicated; however, there is hope.