Veterans Disability Info Blog

Unraveling Anxiety: How Veterans Can Secure Disability Benefits

Anxiety is a mental health condition that impacts a great many Americans and veterans alike. If your anxiety is due to a service-connected event or injury, you may be eligible to receive medical and mental health coverage, in addition to tax-free VA compensation. Collecting what you deserve requires that you apply for your disability benefits, and then receive an accurate rating from the VA. 

If your anxiety has developed following traumatic events of service (often PTSD, which is a form of anxiety disorder), you may be entitled to service connection and a VA disability rating. A VA disability attorney can help you with your VA disability benefits appeal, in addition to a supplemental claim to reopen a previously denied VA disability claim. Your initial consultation is risk-free and cost-free, so reach out now to learn how we can help. 

What is Anxiety? 

While it is normal to feel anxiety in reaction to stressful situations, when the related symptoms begin to impact your ability to live daily life and work, they can rise to the level of a mental health condition. Generally, anxiety is a useful mechanism to cope with certain situations and is temporary. In addition, the anxiety problems we see most frequently with our disabled veteran clients involve scenarios where they experience levels of anxiety disproportionate to the stressor they are experiencing.  For example, it is normal to feel anxious about a possible cancer diagnosis, but not normal to feel anxious about going to the store.

As detailed by the VA, anxiety is a problem when persistent worries begin to impact your day-to-day activities, your relationships, or your sleep. There are a number of different types of anxiety, and the way in which they impact your day-to-day life and ability to work likewise differ. 

Types of Anxiety

The type of anxiety that you have impacts the treatment that will be most effective, and also the anxiety VA rating that is assigned in your situation. The types of anxiety are as follows:

  • Social anxiety – individuals who suffer from social phobia or social anxiety experience strong and long-lasting anxiety in social situations can limit their ability to participate in activities they want to engage in. This can include attending crowded events, or workplace environments. 
  • Generalized anxiety – individuals experiencing generalized anxiety feel as though they are always worrying or anxious about a broad range of experiences in their daily lives. Persons with this condition can experience difficulty controlling or stopping their worries, to the point that the anxiety impacts their ability to concentrate, irritability, restlessness, muscle tension, and more. 
  • Panic attacks – this form of anxiety has those suffering from it having recurrent, unexpected episodes of intense fear or discomfort, otherwise known as panic attacks. These experiences are accompanied by difficulty breathing, a pounding or racing heart, chest pain, stomach distress, dizziness or lightheadedness, tingling or numbness, or chest pain. Persons experiencing a panic attack may feel as though they have lost control, or that they are at risk of dying. 

Determining the type of anxiety that you are experiencing and how it affects your mental health is important in collecting the benefits that you deserve. This will generally be completed with your initial application through a Compensation and Pension Exam (C&P Exam) which is a health assessment by the VA. You can also pursue your own treatment, and provide that information as evidence to the VA. 

Symptoms of Anxiety 

Knowing what to watch out for when it comes to anxiety is helpful in identifying the condition effectively. The symptoms of anxiety can sometimes be confused with those of other concurrent conditions, so it is important to receive a comprehensive mental health assessment to determine the true extent of your condition. When you work with a VA disability attorney on your appeal or supplemental claim, we’ll help you obtain expert reports from appropriate professionals so that your anxiety VA rating is optimal. 

Symptoms of anxiety can include: 

  • Feelings of restlessness, or being jumpy or on edge
  • An increased heart rate, or cold, clammy hands
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Trembling or twitching
  • An excessive amount of worry related to everyday decisions
  • Feelings of dizziness, causes, or lightheadedness 
  • Experiencing difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty catching your breath 

The symptoms of anxiety when coupled with other mental health conditions can severely disable a veteran, impacting their personal and professional lives. 

How Anxiety Impacts Veterans 

Mental health conditions can be just as impactful on your daily life as physical disabilities. When your anxiety or other mental health condition was a result of qualifying for active military service, then the VA covers your medical needs and potentially tax-free compensation. The VA Schedule of Ratings (General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders) provides the categorizations of mental disorders under 38 CFR Sec. 4.130. Each disorder is described under a different code, and the various criteria in the code must be met for the VA to assign the rating. Keep in mind that the case law, such as the case of Mauerhan v. Principi, 16 Vrt. App 436 (2002), indicates that the symptoms listed in each section of the rating code are examples, and it is not essential that the veteran have every single symptom listed. 

Anxiety VA Rating

Oftentimes, one of the most common conditions associated with being a veteran is PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder. This condition develops as a result of exposure to a traumatic experience in the military, which can include events during active duty such as explosions and violence, as well as sexual violence (MST) and other injuries or events during qualifying service. 

If you have already received a VA disability rating for your PTSD but are suffering from increased symptoms–like worsening anxiety or suicidal ideations, your VA disability attorney from our firm can help you appeal for a higher rating to receive a higher rating for your anxiety or PTSD. Your rating is on a percentage scale of 0 to 100, with the VA disability anxiety rating percentages assigned as follows: 

  • 0 percent disability rating – at this rating you have a recognized diagnosis of anxiety, which will entitle you to mental health and coverage on related treatments, however does not include any tax-free disability payments. 
  • 10 percent disability rating – at a 10 percent rating your anxiety impacts your day-to-day life, but can be managed with medication and does not substantially impact your ability to work. You are entitled to a monthly payment of $165.92 for this disability rating.
  • 30 percent disability rating – at this rating your anxiety symptoms get in the way of daily social interactions and occupational settings. Your work efficiency can be negatively impacted, which entitles you to greater compensation. At a 30 percent rating, you are entitled to $508.05 in monthly payments. 
  • 50 percent disability rating – at this rating the sufferer experiences social and occupational impairment that reduces their reliability. Symptoms can include panic attacks, difficulty understanding complex commands, short- and long-term memory impairment, impaired judgment, as well as difficulty maintaining and establishing effective work and social relationships. A 50 percent rating entitles a single veteran with no dependents to $1,041.82 each month in disability compensation. 
  • 70 percent disability rating – a person with a 70 percent rating experiencing substantial social and occupational impairment, impacting most areas of life including work, school, judgment, thinking, and mood. At this rating, the person has near-continuous panic or depression, which impacts their ability to function independently. This disability rating entitles the suffering individual to $1,663.06 each month in tax-free compensation. 
  • 100 percent disability anxiety rating – At this rating, the veteran is entitled to $3,621.95 each month in tax-free compensation. 

To qualify for service connection and these ratings, you must have developed your condition as a result of a service-connected event or injury, and the following must be true: 

  • You have a current diagnosis for a condition or disability 
  • There was an event in service
  • You have the professional opinion of a medical expert that links your current condition to the event or injury that caused it during your military service 

When you meet these requirements, you are able to qualify for service connection and your VA disability benefits for anxiety, or if you have an additional condition that meets these criteria, you can seek to add it to your disability rating through a new claim or a supplemental claim, if the condition was previously denied more than a year prior. 

VA Disability Compensation Replaces Diminished Earning Capacity (at least in theory)

The purpose of filing an appeal for denied VA disability benefits, or a supplemental claim to add your anxiety to your existing rating, is to receive compensation for any impact that your service-connected disabilities have on your ability to work. Working with a free VA-approved veterans service organization representative when filing your initial application can help to ensure that your initial application includes all the necessary information for approval. If your VSO can get the claim granted initially, then this is fantastic.  If, however, you are denied, then you may want to consider hiring a lawyer.  This is especially true if you have been denied at the Board.  To appeal beyond the Board would require an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and you would need an attorney to do that.

Your VA Disability Attorney Handles Appeals and Supplemental Claims for You

The time to connect with a VA disability lawyer is following a denial of your VA disability benefits. If you have developed a new service-related disability that you would like to file a claim for, then a new claim should be filed and your VSO could help you.  On the other hand, if you have been denied for the same or similar condition more than one year ago, then a supplemental claim can be filed to reopen the previous denial, and you can obtain a lawyer to help you with a supplemental claim under these circumstances. Also, remember that any denial of an increased rating claim in cases where your rating exceeds or is equal to 70 percent and certain other conditions are met (such as 40 percent for one disability), you may be eligible for compensation at the 100 percent rate under the TDIU (assuming you are unable to work gainfully as a result of service-connected conditions). Our experienced VA disability attorney will help identify the best strategy in your situation and be by your side for every step of the process.  Call us today at 1-888-878-9350

We are Here to Help

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