Veterans Disability Info Blog

Nurturing Mental Health: Veterans’ Path to Disability Benefits

Mental health issues can have a very real and substantial impact on the life of a veteran and their families. If you or a loved one is suffering from service-connected mental health issues that are long-term and life-altering, you could be entitled to extensive VA disability benefits, including medical coverage and tax-free monthly payments. Two of the most common mental health disabilities suffered by veterans are depression and anxiety, as we’ll explore extensively below. If you meet certain requirements, the anxiety or depression VA rating that you are assigned determines the amount of VA disability benefits you are entitled to receive.  

VA Disability Ratings for Anxiety 

Anxiety is a condition that can have a far-reaching impact on your day-to-day life and can lead to a negative impact on your ability to maintain gainful employment. Most individuals encounter anxiety in a situational way, caused by normal life occurrences such as beginning a new job, unexpected expenses, or experiencing health issues. For some individuals, however, feelings of frequent and excessive anxiety, terror, fear, or panic become a part of their everyday life and can impact their overall quality of life. 

The signs and symptoms of anxiety depend upon the type of anxiety that the individual is suffering from. Following are the signs and symptoms of common anxiety disorders:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) – this involves persistent feelings of anxiety or dread that interfere with the daily life of the persons suffering from it, with symptoms including being easily fatigued, feelings of restlessness or being on edge, experiencing difficulty concentrating, headaches, muscle aches, stomach aches or unexplained pain, experiencing difficulty controlling feelings of worry, as well as sleep problems such as difficulty staying asleep or falling asleep
  • Panic disorder – this is when an individual suffers from frequent and unexpected panic attacks, which are periods of intense fear, discomfort, or feelings of losing control, even when the individual is encountering no clear danger or trigger. During a panic attack, an individual may experience chest pain, sweating, a pounding or racing heart, feeling out of control, feelings of impending doom, or trembling or tingling 

Veterans may develop long-term, life-altering anxiety as a result of a traumatic experience or one that was life-threatening. Combat experience is a leading cause of PTSD and other mental health disorders among veterans. If you or a loved one served in the U.S. military during an active armed conflict, the prospect of developing anxiety and depression is increased, and the importance of receiving a thorough mental health examination is highlighted. 

Your Depression VA Rating 

Receiving an accurate depression VA rating requires that you undergo an extensive mental health review to determine the cause of your depression and the extent of your symptoms. Your depression must be related to your active service directly or be a secondary condition to a primary condition that resulted from your service. A secondary condition means that your depression resulted from a condition for which you have already received a VA disability rating, such as another health impairment or a physical condition.

What is Depression? 

Depression goes beyond simply feeling sad or unhappy or having a normal bad day. When a negative or sad mood lasts for an extended period of time and gets in the way of the sufferer’s daily life, they may be depressed. The extent to which your symptoms impact your day-to-day life and ability to generate an income determines the percentage disability rating on a scale of 0 to 100 percent you receive from the VA. When your rating is at 10 percent or more, you become eligible to receive monthly tax-free payments. 

Symptoms of depression include:

  • A loss of interest in activities that used to be pleasurable
  • Feelings of sadness or anxiety most or all of the time
  • Sleep issues, including waking up too early or sleeping excessively 
  • Feelings of irritability, frustration, or restlessness 
  • Experiencing aches, headaches, pains, or stomach problems that do not improve with treatment
  • Changes in appetite, including eating more than usual or a loss of appetite
  • Experiencing trouble concentrating, making decisions, or recalling details
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness 
  • Being sleepy and feeling tired even after a proper amount of sleep
  • Thoughts or acts of self-harm or suicide 

If you believe that you are depressed, it is important to seek out medical attention as soon as possible from a qualified mental health professional. Speaking with a professional is essential to determine the extent of your issue and what treatment measures may be helpful in addressing it. Seeing a free medical or mental health provider from the VA is an option, or you may also use private care. It is helpful to keep careful records of the symptoms of your depression so that you can provide this information both to your mental healthcare provider and incorporate it into your VA disability application to be applied towards your depression VA rating. 

Causes of Depression

While the exact causes of depression are not known, it is thought to be influenced by a variety of biological, environmental, genetic, and psychological factors. Each individual experiences depression in a different and unique way; however, the following factors have been found to have a positive correlation to becoming depressed: 

  • Experiencing traumatic or stressful events, including physical or sexual abuse, the death of a loved one and, for veterans live combat experience, in-service sexual assault, and other traumatic experiences
  • Persons with blood relatives who are depressed are thought to be at greater risk
  • Experiencing a medical problem, such as a stroke, cancer, or chronic pain
  • Using alcohol or drugs
  • Taking some medications. If you have experienced depression as a result of medication use, it is suggested that you speak with a mental health professional as soon as possible

Veterans who have experienced combat in their active duty are at greater risk of having experienced traumatic events and injuries or witnessed them, increasing the risk of a variety of mental health issues, including depression. Among the general adult population, 1 in 6 persons experience depression at some point in their life. It is important to recognize that anxiety disorders often happen alongside anxiety. 

The Process of Receiving an Accurate Depression/Anxiety VA Rating 

Collecting VA disability benefits that you might be entitled to requires that you go through the VA disability application process. You’ll need to present evidence or undergo a VA examination to prove that your condition is presently being experienced, as well as a medical opinion that has taken into account your service records that your condition is related to your service. 

To receive VA disability benefits, it is essential that you meet two basic requirements before proceeding forward with your application: 

  • Have a current diagnosis for a condition recognized by the VA and
  • Have the opinion of a medical expert that your condition is related to your qualifying active service

For your service to qualify, you must have been discharged in a way other than dishonorable. When it comes to coverage for particular conditions, such as certain cancers and other exposures, you may be able to receive coverage without providing a service connection if you meet the standards of a presumptive condition. This means that persons who served during particular periods at particular locations are able to qualify for certain VA disability ratings automatically without having to prove their service connection. 

Determining what VA disability benefits and ratings apply to your situation and how to prove them to the VA can vary from situation to situation. It is helpful to work with an experienced VA disability lawyer on your appeal to ensure that your condition receives a complete and accurate VA disability rating. 

Connect with a Veterans Disability Lawyer for Help with Your Depression VA Rating

If you or a loved one is suffering from depression or anxiety as a result of a service-connected event, injury, or illness, you could qualify for VA disability coverage for your condition. If you are filing your initial application, free help is available from the VA and accredited representatives. If your initial claim was denied, or you have a VA disability rating for another condition, a VA benefits lawyer from our firm can help with your appeal. 
The depression VA rating you are assigned will determine the amount of monthly income to which you are entitled. This income is tax-free and meant to replace the income your disability prevents you from generating for your household. When the symptoms of your depression or anxiety, whether due to panic disorder or an inability to concentrate, impact your ability to work, VA disability benefits are meant to cover the difference. To learn how we can help, give us a call at 888-878-9350 or visit our site to schedule your free initial consultation.

We are Here to Help

If you are having trouble obtaining benefits, contact us online or at 888.878.9350 to discuss your case.