Depression Disability VA

According to the National Institute of Mental Health statistics, approximately 7.1% of Americans over 18, or 17.3 million adults, live with major depressive disorder (MDD). In addition, this disorder tends to affect more women than men.

In addition, studies have shown that people with military service experience have a higher prevalence of depression than the general population. This likelihood extends beyond active duty as it also affects veterans.

U.S. veterans who served in the military and suffered the debilitating symptoms of depression may be entitled to Veterans Affairs, or VA, disability benefits. In addition, the severity of their condition may determine how much they can claim using the VA depression rating. Learn more about this rating system here. 

What Is Depression or Major Depressive Disorder?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression, or MDD, is a mental disorder where people experience intense sadness. It affects how the person behaves and sees their day-to-day activities, causing a feeling that there is no point in life. Most depression symptoms include:

  • Sadness
  • Tearfulness
  • Emptiness
  • Hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Lethargy
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Worry
  • Forgetfulness
  • Concentration issues
  • Eating disorders
  • Unexplainable back pain
  • Suicidality

All these symptoms could affect a person’s performance in school, work, or society, worsening their social impairment. Therefore, it’s a good idea to seek assistance from mental health experts as soon as symptoms manifest.

Does the VA Count Depression or Other Mental Illnesses as a Disability?

The VA will count depression or other mental health conditions as a disability. However, the mental disorders VA disability updates proposed new rules for mental health conditions, increasing the minimum disability rating to 10%, originally at 0%.

With this rule, the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD) allows veterans to get 100% rated for mental disorders even if they can still go to work.

At What Point Does Depression Become Disabling?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), depression is a psychiatric disorder. However, its classification as a disability does not automatically grant people the right to social security disability benefits, particularly financial assistance programs such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Medicaid.

Before you can get assistance from the Social Security Administration (SSA), your clinical depression must “substantially limit” at least one major life activity. For instance, a person may live with severe depression symptoms, such as social impairment and excessive sleeping. The condition may also accompany other mental health problems like anxiety or adjustment disorders, making depression secondary.

These depressive symptoms or other conditions would prevent the veteran from efficient performance. Thus, they would need VA benefits to make up for the income they physically and mentally cannot bring themselves up to make.

Can Depression Be Service or PTSD-related?

Yes, depression can be related to a veteran’s military service or the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) they developed from their duty. If your mental health expert determines that your medical condition is related to PTSD, you may have to look at the VA PTSD rating to determine your VA disability rating.

What Rating Do I Need From the VA To Get Depression Treatment Covered?

It would help to have at least a 10% VA rating for a successful VA claim. If you suffer from serious depressive symptoms—to the point that your condition prevents you from securing employment—you may apply for total disability individual unemployment (TDIU) benefits.

How Does the VA Determine My Disability Rating?

The VA will determine your disability rating based on the severity of your depression. For example, a 10% VA rating for depression involves veterans who experience less severe depression or anxiety. As a result, no major functional or social impairment exists, so VA benefits can pay for medication. Meanwhile, a 100% VA rating for depression may involve veterans getting panic attacks, self-injury, suicide attempts, and homicidal intentions.

Do You Need To Prove Depression to the VA?

You must connect your depression to your military service to obtain VA benefits. Depending on a veteran’s medical records, the VA will conduct a systematic review and adjust its VA disability rating to accommodate their financial compensation.

How Do You Find a Psychiatrist Who Can Help?

Veterans Affairs offers Mental Health Services to help veterans find the appropriate resources, including psychiatrists for their depression or mental health condition and personal injury law representatives. Veterans may call the following numbers:

  1. (877) 222-8387
  2. (800) 877-8339 (for those with hearing loss)

How Do I Send in a Claim for Major Depressive Disorder?

You can submit your VA disability claim in one of three ways:

  1. Online: Visit and complete your VA disability compensation claim through its online portal.
  2. Mail: Print out a VA form, fill it out, and mail it to the department’s address.
  3. Trained Professional: Seek assistance from an accredited, third-party representative (such as Trajector) to navigate the system on your behalf.

Will the VA Regularly Reevaluate My Depression?

The VA may reevaluate your depression every two to five years. In addition, some VA priority group members might get assistance before you do, especially if you fail to justify your need for assistance.

What Financial Compensation Might I Receive for Depression?

How much you will receive for your depression or mental health disorder will depend on the VA disability rates. These rates start from 10% and gradually increase in increments of 10, meaning you could have a 20%, 30%, or up to 100% VA disability rating.

In addition, your circumstances will factor into the financial compensation you will obtain. For instance, veterans with dependents usually get more VA disability benefits than those living alone.

Based on the current rates for VA disability benefits, the least amount you can receive as a monthly payment is $165.92. If you live with one child, spouse, and two parents, you may get up to $4,295.92. However, you can get added amounts depending on your situation. Check out our veteran benefit guide for more information.

How Can Trajector Help Me?

Trajector understands how challenging it can be to secure medical evidence to accompany a veteran’s VA disability claim. We aim to change that reality and make disability compensation accessible and easy. Discuss your situation with our team today!

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