MMQB – Wrap Up On PTSD Scandal Last Week

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PTSD Scandal

Benjamin KrauseLast week, we uncovered a clandestine VA website run by VA psychologists who function as Comp & Pension examiners that led to a PTSD scandal as matters unfold. The website and related materials indicate VA employees were using non-sanctioned resources to assess veterans for PTSD while focusing on malingering studies that are discouraged by the agency.

The discovery may lead to a class action lawsuit against the psychologists involved and the House Committee on Veterans Affairs is investigating the matter.

These psychologist ran a secret website where VA employees and contractors were able to discuss policies and problems related to their job. Shortly after exposure of the website, it was taken down.

What we need now is to find veterans who may have been impacted. These veterans may have received unfavorable compensation evaluations related to PTSD where the examiner was a member of the group and potentially relying on non-sanctioned techniques to assess PTSD severity.

Welcome to this edition of Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQB) for Veterans. I am your host, Benjamin Krause, creator of the DisabledVeterans.org community. This is the number one place of unadulterated veteran centric news, analysis and benefits strategy on the web. MMQB is where I hit on news from the weekend and talk about upcoming news this week.

This MMQB will be a short one due to an injury.

 

SECRET C&P EXAMINER WEBSITE

The website was called CPExaminer.Wikispaces.com. Website administrators were named Mark Worthen and Brad Brummett. Both of these individuals are purportedly C&P examiners.

We have reason to believe the website served as a resource that provided non-VA sanctioned answers to the following questions:

  • How do I get CAPRI to print out a draft report?
  • So many MMPI-2 profiles have high elevations on the validity scales. Does this mean the veteran is malingering or are they just under a lot of stress due to PTSD?
  • What is the best way to determine if a veteran is malingering? Or, what is the best way to argue convincingly in my report that the veteran is not malingering even when the MMPI-2 F scale is 120?
  • What are the best MMPI-2 validity scales for these exams? F, FB, F-K, F(p), FBS…?
  • Should I always include a Medical Opinion template when conducting an Initial PTSD exam?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of using the PAI instead of the MMPI-2?
  • What’s the best way to get through a 7-volume C-File without taking forever but also gleaning any important information?
  • Do I really have to give a GAF for each Axis I disorder? How do I do that? Or how do I explain why it’s not possible?
  • Do you use the MMSE or another cognitive screening instrument?
  • Is there a reliable and valid way to assess employability?

Many of these questions are answered by official policy and resources sanctioned by VA, which raises questions as to the purpose of the secret website.

Why would VA examiners need an outside resource like this outside of the control and oversight of government officials?

Worthen is a longtime critique of VA policy that requires VA to give the benefit of the drought and not interrogate veterans assuming they are first lying. On his blog, www.PTSDExams.com, Worthen writes:

Army Medicine’s Policy Guidance on the Treatment and Assessment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) [OTSD/MEDCOM Policy Memo 2012-035] states:

Although there has been debate on the role of symptom exaggeration or malingering for secondary gain in DoD and VA PTSD Disability Evaluation System (DES) processes, there is considerable evidence that this is rare and unlikely to be a major factor in the vast majority of disability determinations. [emphasis added by Dr. Worthen]

This statement could not be further from the truth, and it is a shame that a National Center for PTSD publication provided the justification for such an inaccurate assertion by Army Medicine.

Despite the inestimable contributions of National Center for PTSD, if they have a weak spot [Emphasis added by Dr. Worthen] it is their penchant for minimizing or denying the extent to which veterans engage in misattribution, exaggeration, or feigning of PTSD symptoms during VA Compensation and Pension examinations (C&P exams) for posttraumatic stress disorder. The Marx & Holowka (2011) article exemplifies this denial and minimization.

Perhaps the reason these VA examiners created resources like this was to enact non-sanctioned goals to inappropriately focus on malingering. This focus would require using tests created by the insurance industry that were designed to highlight instances where the test recipient’s answers are irregular.

If you were evaluated by Mark Worthen or Brad Brummett, please send us an email.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Ben-while this has nothing to do with the above article, and I DO have PTSD, I am pleased to say that I turned 65 recently and am now on Medicare, Parts A, B and F. I was recommended to a HIGHLY regarded primary care doctor at a civilian HMO. Last Thursday, when I called to schedule an appointment, the admin asst. found out that I was a disabled veteran receiving “care” at my local VAMC and that it would take over two months to see my primary care doctor. I’ve had close to 7 of them in almost 10 years and numerous nurse practitioners. It’s like a revolving door at the VAMC primary care office. Anyway, the civilian admin asst. booked me for a full THREE hour appointment with the doctor in EARLY January as the doctor wants to thoroughly examine me from the top of my head to the bottoms of my feet. He wants to investigate what the VAMC has missed, ignored or is not revealing to me about my body. I just know that I haven’t been receiving the type of treatment that I should be getting.

    • What an interesting angle–I find it baffling…I’ve been battling the VA for sometime because THEY were the ones who GAVE me PTSD when I didn’t have it….yet. The VA shrink who imposed a treatment for it, Gave it to me.
      It was assumed I MUST have ptsd because I had Hep-c, a fatal viral infection with some stigma attached to it that I caught from a patient I was caring for as a corpsman at NRMC Oakland, CA.
      All this proves is that if there is a will there is a way (for the VA) to screw up almost anything they can do it in the worst way possible. And it’s quite obvious there willingness to screw up is without limit.

  2. Ben, I just referred someone at http://www.hadit.com to you to comment on this because I think her husband might have been victimized by these idiots.

    I have been an advocate for 3 decades and never saw a C & P exam like the one her husband got.(which is on the web site)

    The examiner stated “None” after the Stressor question, and VA used the exam to deny his PTSD claim
    (yet the RO conceded his stressors in the denial )????

    Other MH diagnoses seem to have been a part of his med recs but the VA did not even reference or apply Clemons V. Shinseki in the denial.???

    I think he dealt with the Cleveland RO.

    Hope she comments here.

    Shades of the “Perez” memo scandal ….when VA tried to downplay PTSD diagnoses re: OIF OEF. veterans some years ago

  3. BTW I think I mentioned this briefly on a radio show I did with Bob Walsh at hadit blog radio…..when this news first came out…but show time was running out….maybe not
    but ….I am sure he is keeping abreast of all of this as well as well as our radio show producer…..who sent me the Litigation Hold Request info.

    Would you be interested in doing a radio show with us sometime?
    Hadit blog radio…our show archives are all on line at the site.

  4. Ben, I have been waiting 11 years. I am in this same situation but in AZ…could this be happening throughout the VA community? I thought claims and care were separate…? My case is slowly being tampered with and changed to make me look like a malingerer, but I am not. I have proven the stressors and my case is packed with my mental health professionals diagnosis of PTSD. Now they are saying it is not true and if so it was from civilian life…yet they continue treating me for PTSD. My 3rd C&P exam was good until I was given the SSOC with the recent C&P findings. If you can help great! …or if I can help, I am here.

    • Who do you call when the family member that is to care for you, is more interested in your bank account than your health record ? She tells people i’m mentally incomp. so she has to take care of my banking ! So if I say anything everyone thinks i,m nuts and just passes it off , ” due to my “condition” Course the bank don,t send me statements.Due to my condition. NOW ! Due to this condition! How the HELL OR WHO – can I get a hold of to Erase the BULLSHIT AND listen to ME ! I am a 100% V.A & S S . Disabled. Need some help, but can walk (not far or fast) ,talk,add,subtract,and carry on a conversation ! I,m 66 own my (me & bank )home,have money in bank bills paid .Member lives with me! Has no home! I bought her car, lives here free, Now wants to put me in a home ,!live in my house, take care of my money in the bank,and life will be good !! E V E R Heard of S#!^ like that before ?? This sunshine program has been going on for few yrs.2-3- so she can say remember I told ya back so & so! ! ‘m getting sick of it ! My care is half ass ed at best ! What ya think ?? B.R.

      • Robert, did the va appoint this person as guardian, if so tell them you want someone else you can trust. Since you let that person stay in your home and if you want that person out, you can call the police, but the police will tell you, you will have to go to court and have her evicted. That’s the law. I know because this happen to me, they have to be given thirty day notice. In my case the person, laughed at me and my wife, this person stated to another family member that if my wife says anything, the person stated, I will kill the bitch. When I was told this, my wife and I filed a restraining order against that person and it was approved by the judge and I didn’t have to give thirty day notice, that person was escorted out of my house that day, by the police. Don’t let anyone use you and don’t tell the person what you’re going to do, just do it, if you know something is not right.

      • There is a law for imprisoning another person this is 241 statue I think but the thing is you can hire acountant to handle your money and live in a retirement home until you can find a better facility the V. A. CAN HELP OR SHELTER FOR ABUSED AND BATTERED WOMEN give it a try what can you loose

  5. Good morning iam on 30 % Disability with the VA. and just recently got awarded social security disability am I able to filed for unemployability

    • If the SSDI was solely for what you get the SC for, this is great evidence for TDIU (paid at the 100% rate)
      Vet reps often discourage vets with ratings less then 70% to file for TDIU.
      But VA case law is clear that whenever medical evidence ( such as a SSDI award)
      is based Solely on the SC disability the veteran has already established, then the veteran has been rendered unemployable solely due to their SC condition..

      SSDI awards are technically an independent medical opinion.

      The VA web site has the 21-8940 TDIU form you need to fill out and send in.
      Under question 18# check Yes and then make sure they know you get SSDI and refer to on the TDIU form and enclose a copy of the SSDI award letter.

      The key word here is SOLELY.
      Personal example.:
      My husband died with claim for higher rating on his 30% SC PTSD pending at death..
      SSA had awarded him solely for his PTSD.
      The VA made a posthumous 100% P & T SC PTSD award as an accrued benefit to me, based on his VA psychiatric records and his SSDI award.

      His EED ,for my accrued VA benefit was the EED that SSA had given him ( the EED was 3 years prior to his death.)

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