It is always an honor to serve one’s country. However, no one really gets out of the military completely unscathed.
According to the RAND research organization, there are more than nine million veterans who are currently enrolled in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system.
There was a time when the only injuries accounted for were the ones you could see.
We are lucky to live in a time when we have achieved a better understanding of mental health issues, and the benefits for disabled veterans in the U.S. now include conditions like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
If left untreated, these conditions can leave veterans with long-term consequences that severely impact their quality of life.
Are you suffering in the same manner? We are sorry to hear that, and you have our sincerest gratitude for your service. We are also pleased to tell you that you might be eligible for service-connected disability compensation.
Disability Rating Levels
The rate of your compensation will be based on the rating provided by the VA. They use a general rating formula ranging from zero to 100% as follows:
0% VA Rating
The lowest rating is given to those who have mental health issues that, while diagnosed and recognized, have symptoms mild enough for a veteran to continue daily functions without requiring any medication or treatment. As such, they are not eligible to receive monthly payments.
10% VA Rating
This rating is for those diagnosed with a less severe mental health issue. Veterans with this rating can continue daily functions but experience periods of high stress that may affect certain aspects of their lives, like relationships or work. It also means that their symptoms can easily be managed with medication or other treatment. Veterans with this rating are eligible to receive a compensation of $140.05 each month.
30% VA Rating
This rating is given to those diagnosed with a mental health disorder that can significantly impact their daily lives, particularly their occupational performance, due to intermittent periods of inability. This includes those who might miss work periodically because of low motivation or stress associated with their condition. It also includes those who may isolate themselves from other people from time to time. Even so, their condition still doesn’t fully prevent them from succeeding at work or in fostering relationships with other people. They are eligible to receive a compensation of $428.83 each month.
50% VA Rating
This rating applies to those diagnosed with a more serious mental health issue that can significantly interfere with daily life due to the higher frequency, duration, and severity of symptoms. The mental health condition can impact their cognitive functions, such as problem-solving and decision-making. One manifestation is a person’s inability to communicate properly, especially through facial expressions. It can already severely hinder them from succeeding at work and fostering relationships with other people. These veterans are eligible to receive a compensation of $879.36 each month.
70% VA Rating
This rating is the most inclusive in terms of recognized symptoms and their severity. It includes all of the symptoms mentioned in previous ratings, only this time, with an increased frequency, duration, and severity. Those who receive this rating are almost always in a state of disabling panic or depression. Veterans at this level of disability often struggle to control their emotions, leading to frequent violent outbursts and conflicts with other people. This can make it nearly impossible for them to stay employed or succeed in school. These veterans are eligible to receive a compensation of $1403.71 each month.
100% VA Rating
At this rating of mental health disability, the veteran is unable to perform daily functions. He may not even be well enough to get out of bed and take a shower. A person with this rating may also be considered a danger to himself and others, and he may also be prone to having violent thoughts and impulses. Veterans with this rating are eligible to receive a compensation of $3057.13 each month.
100% Individual Unemployability
There are cases when veterans only receive a 50% or 70% rating, yet their condition still ultimately hinders them from securing (and maintaining) gainful employment. If that’s the case, they can consider applying for total disability based on individual unemployability (or TDIU) benefits. This will make them eligible to receive compensation equivalent to the 100% level granted that they can prove they are unable to work due to their mental health issues.
Are Different Mental Health Conditions Rated Separately?
No. VA doesn’t provide separate ratings for multiple conditions. Instead, veterans receive a single disability rating that will sufficiently encompass all of their symptoms. However, this doesn’t mean there are no exceptions to the rule. After all, VA recognizes that special cases will necessitate separate ratings. For instance, eating disorders are not included in the General Rating Formula. Thus, it is possible to apply for a separate rating for those conditions.
Also, a veteran does not need to meet all of the symptoms indicated to qualify for a certain rating. For instance, just because you are not suffering from severe violent outbursts or hallucinations does not mean you are not 100% impaired by your mental health condition.
Proving Service Connection for Depression and Anxiety
Speaking of proof, one can always get diagnosed, but validating that your condition is related to your service is an entirely different challenge altogether. Service-connected depression and anxiety are typically categorized in two ways: direct and secondary.
According to the Senior Veterans Service Alliance (or SVSA), direct service connection refers to a current medical condition that is linked to another disease, injury, or aggravation incurred during active duty service. Aside from the eligibility requirements for veterans benefits, three other conditions must be met:
- Evidence that the causing disease, injury, or aggravation was incurred during service
- Evidence that the current condition is caused by the in-service incurrence
- And a direct link between the current condition and the in-service disease, injury, or aggravation
While it is only logical to assume that if your military mental health screening upon induction showed no pre-existing mental health issue, it must have been service-related, there will still be a need to provide unmistakable evidence that it did not exist prior to service instead of being aggravated by it.
Service treatment records are ideal. However, it is rather uncommon for people in service to go to the Medical Corp to complain of mental health symptoms due to the resilient zeitgeist of military culture.
Another way to prove direct service connection is using records that show substance abuse or alcoholism during service as proof of self-medication. Otherwise, you will need to find undeniable and corroborative evidence elsewhere. Your sworn statement alone won’t suffice.
Meanwhile, the SVSA defines secondary service connection as a current medical condition that was not incurred during active service but was still caused by a disease, injury, or aggravation incurred during active duty service. This type of service connection is easier to prove than the previous one, which probably explains why it is more commonly claimed.
The SVSA reports that 74% of all applications come from those already receiving a form of compensation.
Collecting Evidence to Support Your VA Claim
Aside from the possible supporting documents that we have already mentioned above, there are still other forms of evidence that may help in supporting your claim. Private medical records or those obtained from VA facilities are also considered substantial proof. A veteran may also submit lay statements from loved ones are also considered. It is a statement provided by an individual that is close to the veteran that attests to how the veteran’s current state impacts her daily life.
Just keep these two factors in mind when submitting supporting evidence: First, it must show the frequency, duration, and severity of the veteran’s condition. Second, it must also state what the different symptoms are and how they impact the veteran’s daily life.
Applying for Disability Based on Depression and Anxiety
Are you ready to apply for your claim? There are different ways to do so. First, you can apply online via the Veterans On-Line Application (or VONAPP). You can also download and fill out the Application for Veterans Compensation and/or Pension form from the VA Forms webpage and submit it to your local VA office. Finally, you can also apply by phone on the main hotline at 800-827-1000. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing may call 800-829-4833, and those who are overseas may call 412-395-6572.
We highly recommend applying as soon as possible to receive the earliest possible date of compensation. You don’t even need to have all your supporting documents ready. You can simply submit it all later. What’s important is for you to enjoy the benefits that you rightfully deserve.
If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.
Author Bio: Jim Hughes has significant experience covering financial and business topics. He’s been a financial advisor and also provided consulting and advice. At the moment, he is the Director of Content at OpenCashAdvance.com
The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.
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