August 21, 2012

Evaluating vets for disability: Recommended reading

As thousands of U.S. vets stream back from the battlefields of the Middle East with physical and/or psychological problems, more and more forensic practitioners are being called into service to perform disability evaluations. Veterans who suffered illness or injury due to military service are eligible for disability compensation. But first, they must meet eligibility requirements, which typically include undergoing a disability evaluation (referred to as a "Compensation and Pension examination" or "C and P" in VA parlance).

Not surprisingly, the majority of psychiatric evaluations are for PTSD.

A group of psychologists and psychiatrists who conduct such evaluations has put together a reading list of recommended resources for evaluators. Although one obvious audience is the mental health staff of the Veteran's Administration, the group is also reaching out to clinicians in private practice who conduct mental disability evaluations with veterans, either directly for the veteran or via private companies who have contracts with the VA.

For questions about this reading list, please contact Mark D Worthen, PsyD, who has blogged here before and led the effort to compile the list. Dr. Worthen is also co-author of the only article published in a peer-reviewed journal that describes how to conduct mental disability evaluations with veterans.

Best of all, many of these resources are available online; just click on the embedded links.


Foote, W. E. (2008). Evaluations of individuals for disability in insurance and Social Security contexts. In R. Jackson (Ed.), Learning forensic assessment (international perspectives on forensic mental health) (pp. 449–479). New York: Taylor and Francis Group.

Moering, R. G. (2011). Military service records: Searching for the truth. Psychological Injury and Law, 4(3-4), 217-234. doi:10.1007/s12207-011-9114-3

Rubenzer, S. (2009). Posttraumatic stress disorder: Assessing response style and malingering. Psychological Injury and Law, 2(2), 114–142. doi:10.1007/s12207-009-9045-4.

Strasburger, L. G., Gutheil, T. G. and Brodsky, A. (1997). On wearing two hats: Role conflict in serving as both psychotherapist and expert witness. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154(4), 448–456. (Available online.)

Worthen, M. D. and Moering, R. G. (2011). A practical guide to conducting VA compensation and pension exams for PTSD and other mental disorders. Psychological Injury and Law, 4(3-4), 187-216. doi:10.1007/s12207-011-9115-2.


Allen, M. P. (2011). The law of veteran's benefits 2008-2010: Significant developments, trends, and a glimpse into the future. Veterans Law Review, 3, 1-66. (Available online.)

Ogilvie, B. and Tamlyn, E. (2012). Coming full circle: How VBA can complement recent changes in DoD and VHA policy regarding military sexual trauma. Veterans Law Review, 4, 1-40. (Available online.)

Ridgway, J. D. (2011). The splendid isolation revisited: Lessons from the history of veterans’ benefits before judicial review. Veterans Law Review, 3, 135-219. (Available online.)

Ridgway, J. D. (2012). Erratum to: Mind reading and the art of drafting medical opinions in veterans benefits claims. Psychological Injury and Law, 5(1), 72-87. doi:10.1007/s12207-012-9119-6. (Available online.)


Cocchiarella, L. and Gunnar, B. J. A. (2001). Mental and behavioral disorders. In Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 5th Edition. Chicago: American Medical Association Press. [Although there is a 6th edition of this text, most jurisdictions still refer to the 5th edition]

Institute of Medicine and National Research Council (2007). PTSD compensation and military service. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. (Available online.)

Kennedy, C. H. and Zillmer, E. A. (Eds.) (2012). Military psychology: Clinical and operational applications, 2nd Edition. New York: Guilford Press.

Rogers, R. (Ed.). (2008). Clinical assessment of malingering and deception (3rd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.


Jones v. Shinseki, 23 Vet. App. 382 (2010). (Available online.)

Nieves-Rodriguez v. Peake, 22 Vet. App. 295 (2008). (Available online.)


American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (2008). AAPL practice guideline for the forensic evaluation of psychiatric disability. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 36(4), S3–S50. (Available online.)

Committee on Ethical Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists (2011). Specialty guidelines for forensic psychologists. (Available online.)


Department of Veterans Affairs (2001). C and P clinicians guide. (Available online.)

Department of Veterans Affairs (2002). Best practice manual for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compensation and pension examinations. (Available online.)


National Center for PTSD

MST SharePoint (VA intranet only). In particular, see the PowerPoint presentation, MST C and P exams and the VBA Training Letter - Adjudicating Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Claims Based on Military Sexual Trauma.

Veterans Law Library

Caveat: This list is not an official recommendation of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

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