Can I Get Veteran Disability Benefits For Anxiety Or Depression In Houston?

At one time, disabled veterans returning home after leaving military service were simply rated for their physical injuries. Mental disorders, including so-called “shell shock,”  were not considered for disability benefits. Fortunately, the VA has begun to recognize mental disorders like anxiety and depression and awarding veteran disability benefits to those who need them.

Can I Get Veterans Disability Benefits For Anxiety Or Depression In Houston?

Like civilians, veterans can find themselves with anxiety, depression, or both. The actual rate of these illnesses for veterans is two to three times higher than the rest of the population. Because veterans can be particularly susceptible, especially those who have experienced combat, the VA does award disability based on your level of disability and a service connection.

Mood Disorders

The VA uses the term “mood disorders” to classify anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders. Anxiety and depression are common, as is PTSD, sleep problems, compulsive behavior, sadness, apathy, and others.

These are two different disorders but frequently occur together. Anxiety is usually identified by feelings of dread, uneasiness, or fear that leads to physical stress. Depression is generally feeling blue along with sadness, hopelessness, apathy, and other long-term feelings, including thoughts of suicide. Left unchecked, the symptoms can become long-term, and do not resolve over time, requiring medical intervention.

Establishing The Service Connection

As with any medical condition, the VA requires proof and medical evidence. This requires a number of steps that clearly indicate your condition. Unlike a physical condition or injury, anxiety and/or depression require a somewhat higher standard of proof, as well as a service connection.

The mood disorder may be a direct connection or a secondary one.

  • A direct service connection is one that developed during your military service after your military health screening showed no evidence of psychiatric issues, and no evidence of any issues prior to service
  • A secondary service connection shows that the anxiety or depression occurred after a physical injury that is associated with chronic pain, or traumatic brain injury (TBI) that leads to additional physical and mental issues.

Mental and physical illness can also be connected. Depression and anxiety can also lead to symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, dizziness, sleep disorders, as well as and aches, and pains without an obvious cause. You may have considered or filed a claim for the physical symptoms, which could lead to a secondary claim for anxiety or depression.

Medical records are essential, including military and civilian, as well as current treatment records from either a VA or a private provider. A “nexus letter” from your physician is helpful in firmly establishing a connection between your military service and anxiety or depression.

Rating Schedule

The VA rates veterans for anxiety or depression depending on the degree of disability they are experiencing, as well as the level of impairment.

  • 0%–this indicates a mild case that isn’t disabling and probably won’t require medication, so it’s considered a “non-compensable rating.”
  • 10%–the veteran’s condition is easily managed with medication and doesn’t lead to major disability. This rating includes a small disability payment.
  • 30%–the veteran is still able to maintain employment as well as relationships with others, but may occasionally miss work due to self-isolation. Compensation is higher for this rating.
  • 50%–this indicates a higher level of impairment or an increase in it. The veteran may be experiencing difficulty in following instructions at work, completing tasks, making decisions that aren’t in line with previous ones, or symptoms that manifest in physical ways, such as a monotone voice. Compensation increases for the 50% rating.
  • 70%–this rating indicates that the veteran’s symptoms have increased exponentially, and he or she may have difficulty keeping a job or completing classes, leading to an increase of compensation for this rating.
  • 100%–for a veteran to receive this rating, he or she must be completely disabled and impaired with an inability to function. There is a marked decline in the veteran’s emotional and cognitive functioning, and the veteran is unable to work because of it. A veteran may be so anxious or so depressed that he or she is unable to get out of bed, take a shower, or otherwise take care of themselves.

A veteran who has more than one disability will not receive separate checks for each. Rather, the VA uses a complicated system to determine an overall rating that’s inclusive of both physical and mental illness. That is, if you’re rated for a back injury as well as depression, there will be a total rating that encompasses all of the disabling conditions, with a total dollar amount every month.

For Veterans Who Need Help Now

If you’re a veteran, or you know one who is in need of help, The Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/7. You can send a text to 838255, open an anonymous chat here, or call 1-800-273-8255, then press 1, all free. You’ll communicate with a trained crisis responder who can help connect you with counseling services across the US, as well as suicide prevention centers (SPC) in VA centers around the country.

We’re Here To Help

You can apply online for VA benefits, or by visiting your local VA office. Help is also available.

If you’ve been denied disability benefits, or don’t know where to start, call the Herren Law Firm 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 means you won’t have to pay until you start receiving benefits.

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