Getting Veterans Disability Compensation for Depression

Depression is something that we now know can affect anyone at any time, including veterans. It’s more than just feeling “blue” or down for a few days. If depression continues long term, it can be debilitating, and most people can’t just “snap out of it.” Veterans can be particularly susceptible, especially if they’ve served in a combat zone or another high-stress service connected work environment. If you’re a veteran who’s suffering from or has been diagnosed with service-related depression that impacts your life, you can apply for disability compensation through the Veterans Administration.

Getting Veterans Disability Compensation for Depression

Is It Service Connected?

The VA has two classifications for depression: dysthymic disorder and major depressive disorder, collectively called “mood disorders.”

The first thing the VA will do is determine how and if your depression is directly service connected. You’ll need to produce medical records and other documentation that point to the depression stemming from military service, or from a service-connected injury. Any documentation that proves the depression was service-related will be helpful. If there is nothing in the service medical record, the VA may request statements from individuals who served with the veteran that can corroborate the claim.

If depression existed before enlistment and was worsened by an event or activity during military service, the VA calls it an “aggravated service connection.” The veteran must prove that his or her depression existed before enlistment, and will need to back it up with a statement from his or her physician or mental health professional. Again, if there is no medical notation in the veteran’s service record, statements from fellow service members may be requested.

A veteran must also not have a dishonorable discharge or have any medical condition caused by the veterans’ own intentional misconduct.

Establishing Proof of Depression

In order to process an application and approve (or deny) a veteran’s benefits based on depression, the VA will require various forms of proof. This proof may include:

·         Current diagnosis of depression (from a VA doctor for aggravated service conditions)

·         Evidence of an incident during active duty that triggered or aggravated the depression

·         Medical evidence establishing the link between the current depression diagnosis or aggravation and the episode that occurred while on active duty.

·         A service-connected physical disability that has a direct connection to the diagnosis of depression (called “secondary service connection.”)

An attorney with experience filing VA claims for disability can help identify all the documentary proof needed for a successful benefits application.

Schedule of Ratings

The VA uses a schedule to rate disabilities, including various mental disorders. They rate psychiatric conditions at  0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100% depending on the symptoms and the limitations of the individual’s condition. These ratings are assigned once the disability of the depressive episode has been established. To diagnose and rate these conditions, the VA uses the criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the standard for counselors and psychiatrists and published by the American Psychiatric Association. The higher the rating, the higher the disability, but a 0% score also opens up eligibility for health care later.

The Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) Scale is also used to determine disability ratings for a veteran’s mental conditions. Scores are awarded after the VA’s Compensation & Pension Exam. Ranging from 1-100, the GAF includes one’s ability to function at work, home, and in social situations, with the highest score being the highest functioning. The lower your score, the higher rating from the VA.

We’re Here To Help

You can apply online for VA benefits, or by visiting your local VA office.

If you’ve been denied benefits, or don’t know where to start, call us today at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 to schedule your free consultation. Our attorneys are experienced in helping veterans successfully navigate through the application and appeals process, and we can help you too. Our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t have to pay any fees until you start receiving benefits.

How a Veterans Disability Lawyer in Houston Can Help

When filing a claim with the Veteran’s Affairs, we at Herren Law advise the benefits of having an experienced and professional veterans disability lawyer who’s mission is to help disabled veterans win maximum benefits for their total disability claim. As an experienced veterans disability lawyer in Houston, attorney William Herren has helped numerous veterans, just like you, win disability benefits from an injury or illness acquired while in active duty with the U.S. military, whether Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines, or Air Force.

How a Veterans Disability Lawyer in Houston Can Help | Herren Law

We work on a contingency basis, meaning that you won’t pay a thing unless we win your case. Although a disability lawyer isn’t mandatory when filing a claim, appealing a denial, or representing your case in front of the VA, there are many fundamental benefits that your attorney can offer. Below, you’ll discover some of the ways that a veterans disability lawyer in Houston can help, but in the meantime, you can speak directly with our Houston veterans disability law firm by calling (800) 529-7707 for a free consultation.

Why Success Rates Improve With a Veterans Disability Lawyer in Houston

Remember, having an experienced veterans disability lawyer is not mandatory, but keeping a leading attorney on your side who can help you traverse the claim filing and hearing process can be crucial to getting you the benefits you deserve.

In general, when filing with or without an attorney, an applicant must wait about 6 months before receiving a decision from a VA Regional Office (VARO) in Houston regarding a claim for service-connected compensation. If the claim is denied, the appeals process at the local VARO level can take another six months to two years before the case moves to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) in Washington, DC. Once there, the process can take another two years, while delays at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims can take yet another two years. In some cases, the veteran can spend 10 years or more waiting for VA to make the right decision.

This is definitely an extremely long time to wait, and for this reason alone, it can be helpful to get an attorney on your side to streamline the process while giving you the most benefit and legal counsel before appeals and hearings. Furthermore, the average denial rate in front of the BVA is about 24 percent, while veterans represented by an attorney have an average denial rate of about 17.7 percent. Also, veterans with representation are among the most likely to have their appeals allowed with a 30 percent success rate.

What a Veterans Disability Lawyer Will Do For You

The success rate for your claim can improve by having an experienced and knowledgeable (and VA-certified!) attorney at your side. But what exactly will a veterans disability attorney do for you? Well, that answer is simple: your attorney will zealously advocate on your behalf. Your attorney will also answer any claim-related questions you may have and help you understand and obtain the evidence you need to support your claim.

How a Veterans Disability Lawyer in Houston Can Help | Herren LawFurthermore, with extensive experience helping veterans just like you, we at Herren Law in Houston can analyze your entire VA claim history while assessing the best and most efficient path to getting the disability benefits you deserve, including both the benefits you know about as well as those you don’t.

Your attorney will also assist you during sworn testimonies in front of the VA, whether at the VARO level or even the BVA level. Among other things, your attorney can also help seeking out vocational experts to provide expert opinions while setting up independent medical exams in support of your case.

Your Attorney and Contesting VA Findings

In addition to the above elements, your veterans disability benefits attorney will also be essential in contesting the Veteran’s Affairs findings. Without an attorney, it becomes incrementally more complex to contest the VA findings without an expert. According to the law, your local VA office (whether VARO or BVA) must treat the veteran without an attorney just as they would treat a veteran with an attorney, but in practice, it makes sense to have an attorney who can scrutinize the VA’s decisions and litigate a vigorous appeal. For instance, the veteran can submit written questions to the VA’s physicians to obtain information about their findings and assessments, and VA medical examiners must consider presumptive and direct theories of service connection.

Contact Veterans Disability Attorney William Herren in Houston Today!

The veterans disability process can be quite complex, although it can be sympathetic to claimants. For the most part, it’s absolutely essential to include all of the necessary information and documents in your claim; without a full and comprehensive claim, there’s a higher chance of a denial and increased waiting to possibly receive your disability benefits later on.

To get a complete picture about how Houston veterans disability attorney William Herren can help, you can take advantage of our free consultations and call us today! Call now at (800) 529-7707 or (713) 682-8194.