mary rated disability or not—are generally quite similar to the changes in Table 5-6. The percentage increase for PTSD was similar to the percentage increase in all anxiety disorders, which suggests that the number of veterans with a secondary diagnosis of anxiety disorder or PTSD has grown at about the same rate as the number of veterans with a primary diagnosis for those disorders. In contrast, for most of categories listed (fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, major depression, all other mental disorders, multiple sclerosis, lumbarsacral or cervical strain, diabetes, and asthma), the number of all veterans with a particular disorder has increased at a faster rate than the number of veterans with that disorder as their primary disability.

The information in these tables is consistent with the suggestion that the growth in PTSD awards is due to a greater willingness on the part of veterans to apply for PTSD compensation. It may also, though, reflect in part an increasing tendency for VA to recognize a diagnosis of PTSD and, more generally, to recognize disability resulting from any mental disorder. Unlike most other categories, PTSD as a secondary diagnosis has not increased more rapidly than the number of primary PTSD diagnoses.

Demographic Characteristics of Beneficiaries

Table 5-8 illustrates two well-known trends: an increasing percentage of females in the beneficiary population, and a decrease in the average age in the beneficiary population. These trends presumably reflect trends in the general population of veterans. There are several distinctive features that can be discerned in the characteristics and trends for PTSD beneficiaries. First, the percentage of males among PTSD beneficiaries is slightly higher than the percentage of males among all beneficiaries, and it declined by a very small amount between 1999 and 2006. Second, the age of PTSD beneficiaries has also declined by a very small amount (especially for PTSD as a primary disability14). In short, while the major demographic trends affecting most beneficiaries are also visible among PTSD beneficiaries, they are less pronounced.

Trends in Combined Ratings, Future Exams, and IU Designations

Table 5-9 describes changes between 1999 and 2006, by diagnostic category, in the mean combined rating of a disorder, in the percentages of beneficiaries classified as IU, and in the percentage of beneficiaries for whom a future exam is scheduled. The data on combined ratings show that the ratings had a modest upward trend in almost all diagnostic categories


Defined as either the condition rated as most disabling or equal to the highest rated condition.

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