Friday, November 6, 2015

The PTSD-Abuse Tidal Wave...And Future Ramifications

Image result for shell shock"Shell Shock" victim after WW I

PTSD has become a “disability catchall,” a bonus diagnosis that seems too hard for many to pass up. The U.S. Military has been inundated with a wave of "questionable claims" and so have many Police and Fire Departments in recent years. There is only going to be an increased focus on this area in future years as the costs of these abuses ratchets up.

Many point out that the recent spate of New York City cops and firefighters caught up in a long-running SSDI scam over such fake disability claims is evidence of a “coming reckoning.”

The reckoning, at least the start of it, in many respects, is already here.

First off, even most modern mental health care experts note that PTSD has been defined “far too broadly.” This ( is real PTSD. It was called “Shell Shock,” in World War I. Today, some complain, “That hurt feelings is all that's required for a claim.”

Many advocates don't want to hear the truth, but the fact is that PTSD claims have been the most abused (scammed) disability claim for a very long time, especially since MRIs and other technologies have made back injuries much more easy to document.

Many Municipalities are already taking the first real steps to limiting job-related PTSD claims. Psychiatric diagnoses like Clinical Depression, Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia ARE indeed grounds for disability, just NOT “job-related disabilities.” Moreover, as time goes on and the pressures to reclassify such disabilities in light of skyrocketing costs mount, more and MORE of these claims will be reviewed and the diagnoses reconsidered and often reclassified.

In most Police and Fire Departments there is a profound distinction between “Section-8” (mental health) disabilities and 9/11-related PTSD diagnoses. Most mental health disorders, from Clinical Depression, to Bipolar Disorder, to various forms anti-social behavior and emotional disturbance, to other psychiatric disorders most often lead to NON-Line of Duty mental-health disabilities, NOT the more lucrative 9/11-PTSD disability.

BUT wait, as they say, there’s more! ALL such mental health diagnoses are reviewable...FOREVER. That means a Board can reconsider ANY such claim at ANY time and that outcome can be changed citing “new evidence,” or “new standards.”

What’s more, the recent wave of New York City cops and firefighters who were caught up in that earlier scam (…/…/24/justice/new-york-ptsd-9-11-scam/), has only brought increased scrutiny to the subject.

In truth, PTSD abusers really do actual harm. They victimize the true sufferers of this relatively rare disorder. The vast majority of humans have been shown to have been able to conduct and deal with the most brutal forms of combat, manage through the most stressful events without suffering lasting, let alone lifelong mental/emotional damage.

Of course there are and always will be those few daring and intrepid souls who insist upon searching out the mythical “PTSD Without Strings” disability!

To those, I say, “Good luck with that!” I mean that! As you’re embarking on a lifelong quest, fraught with dangers.

STILL, if you really insist upon trying to procure a dubious PTSD disability, I can offer the following warning; the reality is, that with such a diagnosis, you’re never secure. Future redefinitions of PTSD may very well change the diagnoses and the status of many initially declared as having job-related PTSD. Worse still, such reviews might ultimately lead to criminal charges for some of the more brazen scammers.

Interestingly enough, “Psych professionals” like to keep tabs on their “patients.” Lots of really, REALLY dumb people think that once you’re diagnosed with PTSD or some other “mental/emotional illness"’re home free.

Nope! NOT by a loooooong shot. In fact, that’s where the real action is – post-diagnosis. Can the mental health professional mandate a variety of prescription drugs? Can they take affirmative steps to make sure that you take the prescribed meds? Can they institutionalize you from time to time? The answer to ALL of the above is, “Yes, they can.”

What does the future seem to hold for all this?

Well it looks very much like we’re returning (slowly) to more of an emphasis on re-institutionalization for those with serious mental and emotional health issues, especially anything remotely anti-social, especially in light of the recent spate of shootings my mentally/emotionally disturbed individuals.

You should also be aware that in going down this road you’re rolling the dice with the rest of your natural life. First, many of those who file for PTSD disability pensions are ultimately determined to have other organic mental health disorders and their “issues” are, more often than not, determined “NOT to be job-related,” resulting in a half-pay NON-line of duty disability pension.

Moreover, most don’t seem to realize that their diagnosis and disability status can be reviewed at any time during the future under the existing standards of THAT day. NOT showing up for such a hearing only makes it more likely than not that you’re status will be changed. That means you could be sitting on a beach in St Tropez (one of my favorite spots) and suddenly seeing your trusty old pension check reduced by half or more...AND if you’re really unlucky, that notice might also come with a criminal subpoena...but probably only if you’ve been obvious about your scam. Mental health professionals are generally disinclined to subjecting people with real mental/emotional disorders to criminal prosecution. The authorities, however, have no such compunctions. The procedure for determining such a trial status can be both lengthy and unpleasant.

I want to make very clear that I’m merely offering up a warning that few others would care to give. The abuse of PTSD has become a huge national issue and that issue seems poised to only grow stronger and louder as time and the expenses incurred through these rampant abuses rise. As this issue garners more attention, it will become like baseball's steroid scandal - most of those diagnosed with PTSD will be presumed to be scammers, ESPECIALLY as the list of scammers continues to grow. Public outrage will generate the will within government to crack down on such abuses and that's historically been done in rather draconian fashion.

Even though the government and the medical community, at least the mental health community will have been complicit in this, they will seek to alleviate their own complicity by coming down that much harder on the so-called "scammers," and tragically, as often happens, SOME real victims will probably get caught up in that coming crack down.

One of the problems with such mental health diagnoses is that they ARE open to future review and reinterpretation and since they're not as easy to document as actual physical injuries, they're much more open to revsions.

I've been following this issue for a long time and I am virtually certain that if anything, the issues coming down the pike may actually be far more dire than I've stated.

I do not intend to make light of either the illness or the issue here, just looking to warn those naive enough to believe that this is a "risk-free" path to some kind of jackpot. It seems anything but...

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