Veterans and their families sacrifice so much for our country, so what happens when a loved one returns home with a severe mental disability? After years of service, it’s frustrating and disappointing to develop a severe disorder due to military service that prevents you from living the life you want when you return home.
For many disabled veterans, life does not simply go back to normal. In 2019, it was estimated that 1.66 million veterans had a service-connected disability with a rating of 70% or higher. That’s millions of veterans with severe impairment, and if you’re one of them, you deserve someone fighting for you. For men and women who have so selflessly served our country, getting the disability benefits you deserve is essential.
What Is Grossly Inappropriate Behavior?
Grossly inappropriate behavior is often associated with the worst case of PTSD. PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is one of the most common disabilities veterans return home with. After hearing loss and tinnitus, PTSD is the third most common disability on VA claims. An estimated 10% of veterans experience PTSD, with that number increasing for specific wars such as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in the early 2000s or the estimated 30% PTSD rate for Vietnam veterans.
Grossly Inappropriate Behavior in Disabled Veterans
Grossly inappropriate behavior is a symptom of a severe mental disability. At first glance, it might seem like the word “gross” references a negative connotation while, in actuality, it is simply an umbrella term for different types of behavior.
What behaviors qualify as grossly inappropriate behavior for disabled veterans? Typically, you’re completely impaired, unable to work whatsoever, and are not able to live a normal life. As it often is accompanied by severe PTSD, symptoms, and behaviors could be self-harm and intermittent suicidal thoughts. Grossly inappropriate behavior could include intermittent memory loss, suicidal ideation, or the persistent danger of hurting yourself or others. It is a severe symptom that typically points to a larger mental disability that should be rated at the maximum rate under the VA’s General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders.
Severe PTSD in the VA Code
Grossly inappropriate behavior is most often a symptom of the worst case of severe PTSD. According to psychiatry.org, if you have PTSD, you might experience intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to your traumatic experience. You might be plagued with flashbacks, nightmares, or mental visions of the stressor event. You might be unable to participate in certain situations due to stress or anxiety, and you might feel detached or disinterested in things you once previously loved.
Severe PTSD is extremely debilitating and can cause many subsequent issues such as anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders. It can also lead to drug or alcohol use, with an estimated 20% of veterans with PTSD suffering from connected drug or alcohol problems. Severe PTSD can also cause physical health problems such as cognitive decline, increased blood pressure, fatigue, muscle tension, nausea, joint pain, back pain, and much more.
A common symptom of severe PSD is grossly inappropriate behavior. When you have multiple symptoms of severe PTSD, it’s time to get assessed and diagnosed. If you feel like these symptoms might describe your situation, you’re not alone.
Grossly Inappropriate Behavior and the VA Code
The VA rating code for mental health disorders gives a number from 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, or 100 under the VA’s General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders. Under the current rating scheme, a 100% rating is defined as total social and occupational impairment. In comparison, a 0% rating would demonstrate a mental disorder is shown, but symptoms are not severe enough to impair everyday life or require continuous medication. Disabled veterans fall on all extremes of the scale.
Grossly inappropriate behavior typically generates a 100% rating. With this level of disability, you are completely unable to live your everyday life and are considered severely impaired. You cannot gain or keep employment, and your ability to generate income is drastically reduced. You might not be able to live or function on your own. If you’re awarded a 100% rating due to severe grossly inappropriate behavior, you’re entitled to the maximum monthly compensation.
With a 100% rating, you have a severe and highly debilitating service-connected disability that leaves you unable to work or care for yourself. While the number of veterans has decreased, the number of service-connected disabilities has been increasing, especially with those disabled veterans with a 70% to a 100% rating, allowing for the VA to develop stringent standards to receive a 100% disability rating. It might be difficult to get a 100% rating, which is why it’s important to prepare and show up for your VA doctor appointments. It is also important that your medical records contain a regular chronicle of the more serious symptoms. The VA will not grant the highest rating without documentation of the severe symptoms.
How to Navigate Grossly Inappropriate Behavior as a VA Claim
If you’re filing a VA claim, you’ll undergo a standard compensation and pension exam, more commonly known as a “C&P.” This will verify the diagnosis, assess severity, and determine if the condition is related to your time in military service. To adequately prepare for your appointment, try to write down your symptoms. Collect anecdotes or examples from friends and family of how severe your grossly inappropriate behavior is or descriptions of how it has negatively impacted your life.
Unfortunately, sometimes the VA will deny a PTSD claim if a stressor, the incident or event that triggered the onset of PTSD resulting in grossly inappropriate behavior, did not happen in combat, or you are unable to prove combat exposure. They will also deny a PTSD claim on the stressor issue if the non-combat stressor cannot be corroborated. Another reason the VA might deny a claim is if you don’t fit specific symptoms as outlined in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual Version 5 (DSM-5). In our experience, if VA cannot deny the existence of the stressor, it may try to say that you don’t have the actual diagnosis of PTSD.
If the VA keeps denying a PTSD claim on the grounds that there is not a PTSD diagnosis or that the stressor cannot be proven, then expand the claim to see if there are other mental health diagnoses that could be service connected. For example, we once had a client claiming PTSD due to a roadside bomb in Iraq, but the evidence showed that he was allegedly in California at the time of the roadside bomb. The VA challenged the veteran’s credibility and continued to deny the claim. We fought the case all the way to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. We were able to get the claim remanded at the Court on a technicality, and on remand at the Board we developed additional evidence. Specifically, the veteran was already service connected for knee problems and low back problems due to his airborne status.
He suffered from chronic pain because of these injuries. We had him examined by a psychological expert who determined that he also had depression due to the chronic pain. We then recharacterized the claim to include depression secondary to the service-connected knee and back problems. Based on this new theory and the new evidence we acquired, the VA granted the claim and subsequently awarded the veteran the maximum rating, receiving a high six-figure back paycheck.