Va Secondary Conditions To Depression
It is also possible to have a secondary service connection for anxiety and depression. Secondary service connection happens when you also have a service-connected condition, such as a broken leg or back, and that causes depression or anxiety. If a veteran has chronic pain which affects their everyday life, they may find that their limitations cause feelings of depression in addition to their primary ailment.
Is It Possible To Get 100% Va Disability For Anxiety
Yes, it is possible to get a 100% VA rating for an anxiety disorder.
However, the Department of Veterans Affairs rarely assigns this degree of impairment.
The major exceptions are when the patient has become suicidal or is considering hurting others.
The 100% rating is difficult to obtain regarding mental health conditions because the VA requires that the symptoms are so severe they completely impair your ability to function in everyday life.
In these situations, the patient is often too impaired to carry out simple, normal daily functions like getting out of bed or taking care of personal hygiene.
How Many Veterans Suffer From Depression
Veteran Depression Statistics
A lot, especially Veterans who deployed to a combat zone such as Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
A 2008 VA study estimated that about 1 in 3 Veterans visiting primary care clinics have some symptoms of depression 1 in 5 have serious symptoms that suggest the need for further evaluation for Major Depressive Disorder and 1 in 8 to 1 in 10 have major depression, requiring treatment with psychotherapy and antidepressants.
However, I think these numbers are way low, mainly because Veterans dont trust mental health professionals to include wanting to avoid the stigma of weakness, and therefore arent honest about their mental health issues.
Being honest about mental health as a Veteran is like those alcohol screening questionnaires we had to complete during military service.
Do you drink alcohol?
We all answered no or less than 3 drinks per week to avoid the possibility of your chain-of-command getting notified that youre an alcoholic.
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What Causes Depression In Veterans
Rates of depression are particularly high among servicemembers and veterans. A 2014 study found that nearly 1 in 4 active duty servicemembers showed signs of a mental health condition.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also determined that approximately 18.5 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have or have had PTSD or depression. Studies continue to be done to analyze the link between military service and depression, however, there are a variety of theories as to why so many service members and veterans experience depression.
The nature of service often causes a person to experience trauma. Trauma can have a lasting impact, long after a persons experience is over. Depression can occur shortly after a person experiences trauma, or it may take years to manifest. Below are some examples of trauma that could lead a veteran to develop depression:
- Witnessing a fellow service member be injured or killed
- Experiencing an injury as the result of combat
- Experiencing an IED explosion
- Being part of a burial crew
- Living with the fear of hostile military or terrorist activity
- In-service assault or threat of assault
Female veterans are at significant risk for depression and are more than 250 percent more likely to commit suicide than their civilian counterparts. The rate of military sexual trauma female veterans face could be one of the potential reasons the rates of depression and suicide are so high among this population.
A 50% Rating Requires:
Occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity due to such symptoms as: flattened affect circumstantial or stereotyped speech panic attacks more than once a week difficulty in understanding complex commands impairment of short- and long-term memory impaired judgment impaired abstract thinking disturbances of motivation and mood difficulty in establishing and maintaining effective work and social relationships.
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What If My Anxiety Was Aggravated By Service
It is common for service members and veterans to deal with mental health problems such as anxiety disorders.
The VA will only award disability benefits to service members that establish a service connection.
The service connection can either be direct or through a secondary basis.
Regardless, you must prove that the anxiety disorder started or worsened as a result of an in-service event.
For example, you may have had very minor anxiety prior to enlistment yet if that condition worsened as a result of serving in the military, you can establish a medical nexus with an official diagnosis.
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What Formula Determines Va Disability Rates For Depression
The VA disability rates for depression are determined using a General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders. This category includes a scale of how severely your depression affects or impairs your daily ability to function. The assigned VA disability rates for depression may be 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%. For veterans that cannot work or function socially at all, VA disability rates for depression will usually be 100%. Even if youre formally diagnosed with depression by your healthcare provider, the VA can still assign a 0% disability rating. This means that even though you have depressive symptoms, youre able to function day-to-day without impairment. While a 0% rating may not qualify for disability benefits, your health cares still covered because your depression is service-connected.
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Are Compensation & Pension Exams A Requirement For A Depression Va Rating
The VA will typically schedule a Compensation & Pension examination, also known as a C& P before awarding your VA disability rating for depression.
This could take place at a private facility or a VA medical center.
The examiner will ask you a series of questions to get a better understanding of how this disability affects your day to day life, and then determine the rating.
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How To Get A Higher Va Disability Rating For Anxiety
Get an Independent Psychological Evaluation with a U.S. Board Certified Psychologist
Obtain a DBQ and Nexus letter for ANXIETY or Other Mental Health Conditions
Dont limit yourself to just the one diagnosis
– Is it possible to differentiate symptoms?
– Do you have PTSD and/or Generalized Anxiety Disorder too?
– Secondary Mental Health Claims
Submitting Evidence Under Appeals Modernization Act
While veterans have the right to submit evidence in favor of their claims for depression, it is important to note that there are several changes regarding evidence submission under the new appeals system . Under the Appeals Modernization Act, veterans will choose one of three review options when appealing an unfavorable decision from VA:
- Higher-level review
- Supplemental claim or
- Notice of Disagreement .
When choosing the higher-level review option, veterans cannot submit additional evidence. In the supplemental claim lane, veterans can submit evidence as long as it is considered to be new and relevant. Within the Notice of Disagreement lane there are an additional three dockets for veterans to choose from
- Direct docket
- Evidence docket
- Hearing docket
Similar to the higher-level review lane, veterans are unable to submit evidence when choosing the direct docket. However, veterans do have the option to submit evidence in both the evidence and hearing dockets. In the evidence docket, veterans can submit evidence within 90 days from when the Notice of Disagreement was filed. Veterans who select the hearing docket can submit evidence at the time of the hearing or up until 90 days after.
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Va Disability Ratings For Depression
VA rates mental health conditions differently than physical ailments, and not all psychiatric disorders qualify for service-connected compensation. Eligible mental health conditions include mood disorders such as depression. Veterans suffering from depression may be eligible for VA disability benefits if they can demonstrate that their depression is due to their military service. This can often be done in a number of ways.
Va Rating For Depression Frequently Asked Questions
Is Depression a VA disability?
Yes, Depression is a VA disability.
Depression can be rated at 0 percent, 10 percent, 30 percent, 50 percent, 70 percent, or 100 percent, depending upon the Frequency, Severity, and Duration of your mental health symptoms.
The VA recognizes Major Depressive Disorder as one of 31 mental health conditions that may be related to military service, and thus, Depression is a VA disability, and is eligible for VA disability compensation under federal law.
What are the VA disability ratings for Depression?
The VA will give you a disability rating based upon the severity of your Depression, specifically related to your level of occupational and social impairment.
If you are considered service-connected for Depression, you will receive one of six possible VA disability ratings, broken out as follows: 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%.
Can I have more than one mental health rating, such as PTSD and Depression?
You can, but its unlikely.
The reason is because Depression is normally an underlying symptom of another mental health condition, such as PTSD.
The only time a Veteran will be rated for more than one mental health condition is if the mental health symptoms and level of occupational and social impairment can be clearly differentiated among the different diagnosis.
Can I receive Special Monthly Compensation for Depression?
Veterans can get an extra $364.77 or more each month, tax-free, if you meet the mental health housebound criteria.
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Direct Va Service Connection For Depression
To establish direct service connection for depression, veterans will typically need three things:
- A current diagnosis of depressionThe easiest way to show proof of a diagnosis for depression is through medical records. Importantly, the diagnosis must be current.
- An in-service event or stressorTo prove an in-service event, veterans might use service treatment records, as they will have documented any injury or illness, including depression, if it was treated during active duty. Unfortunately, not all veterans have this type of evidence available to them, as many service members do not seek treatment out of fear of stigma. In this case, lay statements from the veteran and/or their family members can be particularly effective. These statements can be used to describe both the onset and progression of the veterans depression, as well as how it relates to service.
- A medical nexus between the depression and the in-service eventA statement from a qualified healthcare professional affirming that they believe your condition was at least as likely as not caused by your military service can serve as a medical nexus.
Direct Service Connection For Depression
In order to establish service connection for depression on a direct basis, veterans must show evidence of the following:
- A current diagnosis of depression. The easiest way to show proof of a diagnosis for depression is through medical records. It is important to note that the diagnosis must be current in order to qualify for VA disability benefits.
- An in-service event. The best forms of evidence to prove an in-service event include service treatment records as they will have documented any injury or illness, including depression, for which you were treated while on active duty. This is very beneficial in proving a condition arose during service or shortly after service. Unfortunately, not all veterans have this type of evidence available to them. In this case, lay statements from the veteran and/or his or her family members can be particularly effective. These statements can be used to describe both the onset and progression of the veterans depression, as well as how it relates to service.
- A medical nexus between the depression and the in-service event. A statement from a qualified healthcare professional affirming that they believe your condition was at least as likely as not caused by your military service can serve as a medical nexus.
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How Does Va Diagnose Or Evaluate A Veterans Depression And Anxiety For Va Disability Benefits
From a diagnostic perspective, VA relies on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition published by the American Psychiatric Association to rate all mental health conditions. Again, for PTSD there is criterion requiring a stressor however, depressive and anxiety disorders have separate diagnostic criteria. As long as the veterans particular symptoms meet the frequency, duration, and severity outlined for those conditions in the DSM-5, they should receive proper diagnoses. Once a diagnosis is reached, VA will apply the General Rating Formula for Mental Health Conditions found under 38 CFR § 4.130.
The possible disability ratings are: 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, and 100 percent. All mental health disability ratings are based on the severity of the condition and the resulting level of social and occupational impairment.
Eligibility For Va Compensation For Depression
The VA rating schedule determines the amount of compensation a Veteran may receive for service-connected disabilities. The higher the VA disability rating, the higher the monetary compensation. Factors such as being married or having dependents can also increase the amount of compensation that the VA provides.
The VAs § 4.130 Schedule of ratings Mental disorders addresses persistent depressive disorder , major depressive disorder and unspecified depressive disorder. There are five levels of ratings from 0-100% in 10 percent increments that result in benefits.
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Do Veterans Get Separate Va Ratings For Mental Health Conditions
VAs General Rating Formula for Mental Health Conditions is meant to apply to a variety of psychiatric diagnoses. Veterans are not going to receive separate disability ratings for each mental health condition. Instead, they are going to receive a single disability rating under this formula that considers and accommodates all of their particular symptoms. For example, both depressed mood and anxiety are listed as symptoms in the rating criteria. Therefore, it is not a matter of getting separate ratings for each condition, but rather a matter of figuring out the severity of those symptoms and determining what the rating should be based on the level of social and occupational impairment that is present.
However, this is not to say that certain mental health conditions cannot be rated separately if deemed appropriate for example, VA does have a separate set of criteria for eating disorders outside of the General Rating Formula. As such, there are certain circumstances where separate ratings may be involved, but they are few and far between. For the most part, mental health conditions are going to be rated together.
Secondary Service Connection For Depression
In some cases, a veteran may qualify for VA disability for depression if the depression is the result of another condition connected to the service, otherwise known as a secondary claim.
Lets say that you were injured while in the military.
And years later youre still dealing with this pain, which has caused a list of additional problems in your life.
Eventually, triggering depression.
This is sometimes referred to as a Lifestyle Impact Claim and/or Somatic Symptom Disorder .
In addition, depression could also cause or aggravateanother disability.
For example, the medication that you are taking may have the side effect of another injury or condition.
You must still prove this connection through medical evidence to create the link and show the correlation.
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How Does Va Rate Anxiety Disorders
When rating service-connected anxiety disorders, VA uses the General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders included in 38 CFR § 4.130 to assign one of the following percentages: 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, or 100. These ratings are based on the level of social and occupational impairment a veteran experiences, and the severity of symptoms VA uses to characterize that impairment. Importantly, all of the following anxiety disorders are categorized by a diagnostic code and rated based on this general formula:
- DC 9400: Generalized anxiety disorder
- DC 9403: All phobias, including social anxiety disorder
- DC 9404: Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- DC 9411: Post-traumatic stress disorder
- DC 9412: Panic disorder and/or agoraphobia
This portion of the rating schedule is based upon the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition . According to 38 CFR § 4.125, Diagnosis of Mental Disorders, if the diagnosis of a mental disorder does not conform to DSM-5, the rating agency will return the VA examination report to the examiner to substantiate the diagnosis. Additionally, if the diagnosis of a mental disorder is changed, the rating agency will determine whether the new diagnosis represents progression of the prior diagnosis, correction of an error in the prior diagnosis, or development of a new and separate condition.