Veterans Disability Info Blog

What Type of Anxiety Is Considered A VA Disability?

Anxiety disorders are a prevalent mental health concern among veterans, affecting a significant percentage of individuals who have served in the military. The VA recognizes that these disorders can have a profound impact on the lives and overall well-being of veterans. Therefore, the VA has established anxiety VA ratings for a range of anxiety disorders.

To learn more about anxiety VA ratings—including eligibility requirements, anxiety medical nexus letters, and strategies to secure secondary-service connection for anxiety—read our free eBook, VA Disability Ratings for Anxiety: An Essential Guide for U.S. Veterans.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

One of the most common anxiety disorders seen in veterans is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD is characterized by uncontrollable, excessive worry about multiple aspects of life, such as health, finances, and relationships. It is estimated that approximately 12% of veterans suffer from GAD. Rates are even higher (40%) for veterans diagnosed with a PTSD VA rating.

GAD can be a debilitating condition, as it often interferes with a person’s ability to function and engage in day-to-day activities. Veterans with GAD may experience difficulties in concentration, sleep disturbances, irritability, and physical symptoms such as muscle tension and fatigue. These symptoms can significantly impact their work performance, social activities, and overall quality of life.

Diagnosing GAD in veterans involves a comprehensive evaluation by a mental health professional. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria is commonly used to determine if an individual meets the criteria for GAD. In awarding a VA rating for GAD, the agency will consider the veteran’s diagnosis, duration of symptoms, and the impact they have on daily functioning.


Phobias are another common type of anxiety disorder in veterans. Phobias are irrational, intense fears of specific objects, situations, or activities. Examples include a fear of heights, flying, or spiders.

Phobias are considered disabling as they can lead to avoidance behaviors and limit a person’s ability to engage in certain activities or environments. For example, a veteran with a phobia of crowds may avoid public gatherings, leading to social isolation and impaired functioning.

To diagnose a phobia, mental health professionals conduct an assessment that includes interviews, questionnaires, and observation. The assessment aims to gather information about the veteran’s fears, how they impact their daily life, and any avoidance behaviors that may be present.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder (also called social phobia) is defined as a deep fear of social situations and avoidance of human interaction. Social anxiety disorder is prevalent in veterans and associated with functional impairment, psychiatric comorbidities, and a 3-fold higher risk for suicidal ideation.

This disorder can be crippling, making it challenging for veterans to form and maintain relationships, seek employment, or participate in social activities. The fear of judgment from others can become so overwhelming that it leads to isolation and withdrawal from society.

Diagnosing social anxiety disorder involves assessing the individual’s symptoms, such as excessive fear of social situations and avoidance behaviors and considering the impact of these symptoms on their daily life.

Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia

Panic disorder with agoraphobia is another anxiety disorder commonly seen in veterans. Panic disorder involves recurrent panic attacks—sudden episodes of intense fear accompanied by rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and chest pain.

Agoraphobia, often accompanying panic disorder, is the fear and avoidance of environments where escape may be difficult or help may not be available, leading to the avoidance of crowded places or unfamiliar environments.

The combination of panic disorder and agoraphobia can severely limit a veteran’s ability to leave their home or partake in activities outside their comfort zone. Panic disorder with agoraphobia is diagnosed by evaluating the presence of panic attacks and the impact of agoraphobic fear and avoidance on the individual’s daily functioning.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is another common anxiety disorder among veterans. OCD is characterized by distressing and intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive mental acts or behaviors (compulsions) performed in response to these obsessions.

The symptoms of OCD can be highly disabling, interfering with a veteran’s ability to carry out daily activities and maintain a sense of control. Common obsessions include fears of contamination or causing harm to oneself or others, while common compulsions may involve excessive hand washing, checking, or arranging objects. Diagnosis of OCD involves a thorough assessment of the individual’s obsessions and compulsions, as well as the impact of these symptoms on their functioning.

Effective Treatments for Anxiety Disorders

It is important to note that anxiety disorders are treatable conditions. Various treatment options are available to help veterans manage symptoms and improve their quality of life. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common and successful treatment for anxiety disorders. CBT focuses on pinpointing and challenging negative thoughts and implementing healthy coping mechanisms.

In addition to therapy, medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can be prescribed to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety disorders. Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants can be prescribed to alleviate anxiety symptoms. Medication is most often used in conjunction with therapy for the best outcomes.

VA Diagnostic Codes for Anxiety Disorders

The VA uses a system of diagnostic codes to classify anxiety disorders and determine anxiety VA ratings. The VA Diagnostic Codes for Anxiety Disorders are as follows:

  • 9400 Generalized anxiety disorder
  • 9403 Social anxiety disorder / social phobia; specific phobia
  • 9412 Panic disorder and/or agoraphobia
  • 9404 Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • 9410 Other specified anxiety disorder
  • 9413 Unspecified anxiety disorder

These codes help ensure consistency and accuracy when assessing and assigning disability ratings for veterans with anxiety disorders.

It is important for veterans with anxiety disorders to seek an anxiety VA rating. By doing so, they can access the support and resources they need to manage their condition and improve their quality of life. VA ratings for anxiety can be difficult to secure. Veterans should work with a VA disability lawyer to help navigate the process of applying for anxiety disability compensation.

To learn more about anxiety VA ratings—including eligibility requirements, anxiety medical nexus letters, and strategies to secure secondary-service connection for anxiety—read our free eBook, VA Disability Ratings for Anxiety: An Essential Guide for U.S. Veterans.

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