A 2008 VA study estimated about 1 in 3 (33.3%) of Veterans have some symptoms of depression; 1 in 5 (20%) have serious symptoms and 1 in 8 (12.5%) have major depression, requiring treatment with psychotherapy and antidepressants.
How to Establish Service Connection for Depression
There are three basic elements to service connection:
- A current diagnosis of the condition
- Evidence of an in-service event, injury or illness
- A medical nexus linking the current, diagnosed condition to the in-service occurrence
It is important to note that for depression diagnosis’, it is not necessary to establish a stressor (i.e., a traumatic event). This is only required when establishing service connection for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
VA Disability Ratings and Diagnostic Criteria for Depression
The VA relies on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to rate all mental health conditions. As long as a veteran’s symptoms meet the frequency, duration and severity outlined in the DSM-5, they should receive a diagnosis of depression.
Once this diagnosis is reached, VA will apply the General Rating Formula for Mental Health Conditions found under 38 CFR § 4.130.
The possible disability ratings are: 0, 10, 30, 50, 70 and 100 percent. All mental health disability ratings are based on the severity of the condition and the resulting level of social and occupational impairment.
0% VA Rating for Depression
This is typically a very mild presentation. If the VA awards a 0 percent rating, they have determined the veteran has a diagnosis, but the symptoms do not result in a functional impairment or require medication. This rating is also non-compensable, meaning the veteran will not receive monthly payments for this condition.
10% VA Rating for Depression
This rating also represents a less severe form of depression or anxiety. The veteran may experience mild periods of depression resulting in social or occupational impairments, but no major functional impairments, and can be managed with medication.
30% VA Rating for Depression
This rating is also meant to represent mild symptoms, but more pronounced than the 10 percent rating. “Occasional decrease in work efficiency and intermittent periods of inability to perform occupational tasks” may occur–meaning the veteran might miss work on occasion, or be less involved in social activities. However, their depression does not fully incapacitate them.
50% VA Rating for Depression
This rating is a significant increase in the frequency, duration and severity of symptoms. There are several additional symptoms included in this rating that are not included previously.
Veterans receiving this rating likely display more cognitive impairments. Some mood-associated symptoms may begin to manifest. Social and occupational impairments may also be significantly worse, and have a greater day-to-day impact.
70% VA Rating for Depression
This rating represents a wide array of symptoms, including progression of previously noted symptoms. Veterans may suffer from all the symptoms of previous ratings, but at higher frequency, duration and severity. The depression is likely constant, and causing regular issues with their day-to-day life.
100% VA Rating for Depression
This is difficult to obtain because the symptoms need to be so severe that they totally impair the veteran’s life, to the point they are unable to function. The jump from 70 to 100 percent is significant. There is a substantial decline in cognitive and emotional function.
Self-injury and suicide attempts/idiology are consistent with a 100 percent rating. A 100 percent rating for depression also includes homicidal ideations.
Denied Mental Health Benefits? Let Us Help!
If you have been denied mental health benefits, or are attempting to increase your rating, the team at Hill & Ponton may be able to assist you. Click the button below to get more information.
Do Veterans Get Separate VA Ratings for Mental Health Conditions?
Veterans do not receive separate disability ratings for each mental health condition.
Instead, they receive a single disability rating that considers and accommodates all of their associated symptoms.
However, certain mental health conditions could be rated separately if deemed appropriate. For example, the VA does have separate criteria for eating disorders outside of the General Rating Formula.
There are certain circumstances where separate ratings may happen, but it’s generally rare and for the most part, mental health conditions are rated together.
100% Individual Unemployability (TDIU)
In cases where a veteran’s depression is so severe they are unable to secure and maintain substantially gainful employment, they can apply for total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU) benefits.
TDIU provides monthly compensation at the 100 percent level, even if a veteran’s combined disability rating is less than 100 percent.
Symptoms of Depression in Veterans
Depression is defined as a “mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest in day-to-day activities.”
Most often diagnosed as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), depression affects how you think, feel and behave, and can lead to a wide range of problems.
Pre-screening for MDD typically begins with the completion of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9).
Some of the signs and symptoms of depression include:
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration
- Loss of interest in activities
- Sleep disturbances, whether it is sleeping too much or too little
- Tiredness and lack of energy
- Reduced appetite or increased cravings for food
- Anxiety, agitation and restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Trouble concentrating
- Suicidal thoughts, attempts or suicide
Calculate Your Benefits with Our VA Disability Calculator
C&P Exams for Depression
When determining a rating for a mental illness, the VA will normally send veterans toCompensation and Pension Exams, for a doctor to review all the veteran’s symptoms and give a medical opinion. Since there is variability in this process, it can be extremely difficult to predict the exact rating a veteran will receive.
Understanding the way that the VA rates a mental health condition like depression is a crucial aspect when filing a claim forVAdisability compensation. Veterans who understand the initial claims process will have the insight and knowledge that is needed, with one foot already in the door. Check out one of our top interviews with Psychologist Dr. Vonetes here!
Can you be depressed and have PTSD at the same time?
Both PTSD and Depression tend to coexist with other medical conditions. Some of these other conditions include chronic pain, headaches, substance abuse disorders, and anxiety disorders.
These two conditions often exist together within the veteran population. It has also been shown that PTSD can lead to Depression, and Depression can have symptoms similar to those of PTSD. So, you might be experiencing both PTSD and depression symptoms together.
Anyone who has experienced or witnessed a life-threatening event can suffer from PTSD. Military combat veterans, accident victims, people who have survived a natural disaster, sexual assault victims, and children who have been abused can all be subject to PTSD.
According to the VA, other factors in a combat situation can add more stress to an already stressful situation. This may contribute to PTSD and other mentalhealth problems. These factors include your military duties, the politics around the war, where the war is fought, and the type of enemy you face.
Risk factors for depression include negative life events, such as divorce, loss of a loved one, or loss of employment. Research shows that chronic stressors (such as illness, lack of social support, and numerous “daily hassles”) are also linked to a higher risk for depression. In fact, stress from adjusting to military life has also been known to cause depression.
Getting Help With Your Claim
If you or a family member have had a disability claim denied and are unable to work due to mental illness, the team at Hill & Ponton is here to help. Our experienced veterans’ disability lawyers can asses your case andhelp with your appeal. Contact us today to get started.
Are You in Crisis or Know Someone Who Is?
The VA has a Veterans Crisis Line equipped with responders who are trained to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. This Crisis Line connects service members, as well as their family and friends, with caring professionals through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text messaging service. The Crisis Line can be accessed any of the following ways:
- Dial 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1
- Send a text message to 838255
- Start a confidential online chat session at veteranscrisisline.net/chat
- Find a VA facility near you
How useful was this post?
Click on a star to rate it!
As you found this post useful...
Share with others on social media!
We are sorry that this post was not as useful for you!
Help us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?
You Might Also Like
What Does Your VA Disability Rating Mean?
What Does Your VA Disability Rating Mean? After you have filed your claim for VA disability benefits and the VA adjudicators have decoded that your disability is service connected, the…
The Ultimate 70 VA Disability Benefits Guide: 2023 Edition
You’ve got a service-connected disability rated at 70 percent. Now what? This guide covers everything you need to know about your VA disability benefits, including what they are, how they…
VA Rating Code Sheets (Key Resource)
The VA Rating Code Sheet – Demystifying Ratings and Compensation When applying for disability compensation through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, each veteran will receive a rating decision.…
How hard is it to get VA disability for depression? ›
100% VA Rating for Depression
This is difficult to obtain because the symptoms need to be so severe that they totally impair the veteran's life, to the point they are unable to function. The jump from 70 to 100 percent is significant. There is a substantial decline in cognitive and emotional function.
70% VA Rating for Depression and Anxiety
The 70 percent disability rating criterion for depression and anxiety is the most inclusive insofar as it represents a wide array of symptoms, including a progression of symptoms noted in the lower disability ratings.
The rating is based on the effects of the symptoms on a veteran's ability to function, not on the symptoms themselves. The available ratings for depression are 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%. A 100% rating is warranted only where a veteran has absolutely no ability to function socially or at work.What are the VA disability rates for 2023? ›
- $165.92 per month for 10% disability.
- $327.99 per month for 20% disability.
- $508.05 per month for 30% disability.
- $731.86 per month for 40% disability.
- $1,041.82 per month for 50% disability.
- $1,319.65 per month for 60% disability.
- $1,663.06 per month for 70% disability.
At the C&P exam, the examiner could physically examine the veteran's back and ask questions regarding the connection between the back condition and the veteran's depression.What is a 70 percent VA rating for depression? ›
A 70 percent rating, may be assigned for occupational and social impairment, with deficiencies in most areas, such as work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood, due to such symptoms as: suicidal ideation; obsessional rituals which interfere with routine activities; speech intermittently illogical, ...What is the VA rating for anxiety and depression? ›
For most anxiety and depression disorders, VA offers ratings of 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, and 100%.Does the VA reevaluate depression? ›
Basically, the VA can reevaluate your disability rating every 2 to 5 years unless your rating is permanent or protected. Depending on the results of the reexamination and reevaluation, you may see a reduced rating.How do I increase my VA mental health rating? ›
- Method 1: Appeal the Decision or File a New Claim. The most straightforward approach is to appeal VA's decision on the original claim. ...
- Method 2: Prove Individual Unemployability (TDIU) ...
- Method 3: File for a Secondary Service Connection. ...
- Assistance with Your Claims and Appeals.
Both ICD–10 and DSM–IV classify clinically important depressive episodes as mild, moderate and severe based on the number, type and severity of symptoms present and degree of functional impairment.
How do you assess the severity of depression? ›
The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) is widely used to screen for depression and to measure behavioral manifestations and severity of depression. The BDI can be used for ages 13 to 80. The inventory contains 21 self-report items which individuals complete using multiple choice response formats.Is depression secondary to back pain a VA disability? ›
Chronic pain can result in other serious, secondary conditions. One of these is depression. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) considers depression a ratable illness, and it's possible for veterans to file a claim for disability benefits if they suffer from depression as a secondary condition.What is 90 percent VA disability for 2023? ›
The 2023 compensation rate (an 8.7% increase) for a 90% VA disability rating is $2,172.39. For more information about compensation for dependents, our 2023 VA Disability Rates and Compensation article covers all the updates for the year.What is the special monthly compensation rate for 2023 VA? ›
2023 SMC payment rates
For 2023, the SMC-K rate is $128.62.
20 Years: Continuous Rating
If, after twenty years, a service-connected disability is rated at or above the originally assigned rating level, it may not be lowered below the original level.
Don't Lie or Stretch the Truth. This is a big one. Don't ever lie or stretch the truth when it comes to your VA disability claim. At your C&P exam, you should think, look, act, and speak as you would on a normal day.How do you pass a disability mental exam? ›
- Answer all the questions. The disability mental exam questions are designed to give the examiner a clear picture of your mental health. ...
- Be specific. ...
- Don't answer questions you aren't asked. ...
- Be honest. ...
- Don't hold back. ...
- Do your best on any tests you're given.
Yes. The VA allows Veterans to receive disability benefits for secondary conditions, provided they can tie those secondary conditions to their service-connected injury or illness. In this example, a Veteran would have to prove that their secondary condition was caused because of their knee pain or injury.How much is 80 percent VA disability? ›
Veterans that obtain an 80 percent VA Disability rating receive $1,933.15 a month from the Veterans Administration. Eligible disabled veterans may also be able to receive extra monthly compensation for dependent children and parents.What percentage is anxiety for VA disability? ›
Many say 30% is the most common anxiety VA rating, but from our practice's experience, we've seen many veterans stuck at 50% and 70% ratings for anxiety.
Is depression secondary to PTSD? ›
While PTSD does not directly cause depression, it can lead to depression. About half of people suffering from PTSD also have a major depressive disorder. Because PTSD often manifests as negative thoughts or self-talk, people with PTSD and depression frequently struggle to get an accurate diagnosis for both disorders.Which is not a symptom of depression? ›
During a depressed period, you may feel sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities. But then it will switch to a period of mania, when you feel euphoric, energetic, or irritable. Those are not symptoms of clinical depression.What is 100% VA rating for anxiety? ›
A 100 percent rating is warranted for generalized anxiety disorder with depression when there is total occupational and social impairment due to such symptoms as gross impairment in thought processes or communication; persistent delusions or hallucinations; grossly inappropriate behavior; persistent danger of hurting ...What are the easiest VA claims to get approved? ›
- Mental Health Conditions.
- Musculoskeletal Conditions.
- Presumptive Conditions.
Both sleep apnea and depression may be granted service connection if VA decides that the above-mentioned elements are met. However, veterans may also be eligible for VA disability benefits for depression on a secondary basis.What is the VA disability rating for adjustment disorder with depressed mood? ›
A 100 percent initial disability rating for adjustment disorder with depressed mood is granted, subject to the laws and regulations governing the payment of monetary benefits.Can you get SMC for depression? ›
The Veteran receives SMC benefits based on loss of use of both lower extremities with additional independent 100 percent rating for depression; this includes compensation for regular aid and attendance.What is VA 70 percent mental health? ›
A 70 percent disability rating for mental health conditions requires “Occupational and social impairment, with deficiencies in most areas, such as work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood, due to such symptoms as: suicidal ideation; obsessional rituals which interfere with routine activities; speech ...Is it hard to get your VA disability rating increased? ›
The VA makes achieving a 100% disability rating difficult, but not impossible. However, the VA will pay certain veterans 100% disability compensation, even if the VA has not rated their service-related disabilities at the total level.What do I say to get a higher VA disability rating? ›
- Filing an appeal within VA's deadlines.
- Filing a new claim for an increased rating.
- Filing for TDIU, or total disability based on individual unemployability.
- Filing for secondary service connection.
What does my depression score mean? ›
Scoring between 5-9 points indicates mild depression, 10-14 points indicates moderate depression, 15-19 points indicates moderately severe depression, and 20 or more points indicates severe depression. The higher your score, the more symptoms of depression you experience, and the more severe your depression is.What are 4 criteria used to diagnose depression? ›
DSM-5 Depression Diagnostic Criteria
Change in appetite, losing or gaining weight. Sleeping too much or not sleeping well (insomnia) Fatigue and low energy most days. Feeling worthless, guilty, and hopeless.
The PHQ-9 is the nine item depression scale of the patient health questionnaire. The nine items of the PHQ-9 are based directly on the nine diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder in the DSM-IV.What are the 5 levels of depression? ›
Types of major depression include melancholia, psychotic and antenatal or postnatal. You may be diagnosed with mild, moderate or severe depression. Your mental health professional may diagnose you with depression if these symptoms: happen most days.What is the most common depression scale? ›
The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) is the most widely used self-rating scale, developed in 1961 by Aaron Beck based on symptoms he observed to be common among depressed patients. The BDI consists of 21 items of emotional, behavioral, and somatic symptoms that takes 5–10 minutes to administer.What is the criteria for depression? ›
Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.What condition is secondary to depression? ›
Another two conditions that I think we commonly see secondary to depression include restless leg syndrome and erectile dysfunction. So, perhaps you can walk us through those two conditions. Alex Gamache: Yeah, so regarding the first one of restless leg syndrome.What type of depression is considered a disability? ›
Depression is considered a disability when it prevents you from engaging or completing daily activities and tasks. These types of depression may qualify you for a disability claim if you meet specific requirements: clinical depression. persistent depressive disorder.Can you get VA disability for depression secondary to migraines? ›
In the instance of migraines and depression, migraines may be claimed as a secondary condition to depression. To be eligible for secondary service connection for migraines, the veteran would need to: Already be service-connected for depression; Provide a diagnosis for the secondary condition (migraines); and.When does the VA disability increase start 2023? ›
Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, Veterans and beneficiaries who receive VA compensation benefits will see an 8.7% increase in their monthly payments—the largest increase in over 30 years. The annual COLA increase is tied to the Social Security rate change and is based on the consumer price index (CPI).
Will there be a 2023 VA disability increase? ›
2023 VA disability pay rates, which are effective December 1, 2022, have a year over year increase of 8.7% based on the latest cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).What does 90% VA disability entitle you to? ›
Veterans who are rated as 90 percent disabled may qualify for concurrent retired and disability pay (CRDP). Importantly, CRDP restores your service pay simply by eliminating the VA waiver*. Veterans will not receive a separate check for CRDP.What's new for veterans in 2023? ›
WASHINGTON — On Jan. 1, 2023, the Department of Veterans Affairs will open enrollment for Veterans Affairs Life Insurance — the first new VA life insurance program for Veterans in more than 50 years — extending VALife access to millions of Veterans.Will VA SMC rates increase in 2023? ›
VA Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) Rates for 2023
Furthermore, all levels of special monthly compensation will see an increase in 2023. To calculate estimates for the 2023 SMC rates, the 2022 SMC rates can be used as a baseline. Take the 2023 COLA of 8.7 percent and multiply it by your 2022 SMC compensation rate.
With the 8.7 percent COLA increase, veterans with a 100 percent disability rating and no dependents will see an extra $289.89 added to their disability compensation, yielding $3,621.95 per month.Is depression a permanent VA disability? ›
100% Individual Unemployability (TDIU)
In cases where a veteran's depression is so severe they are unable to secure and maintain substantially gainful employment, they can apply for total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU) benefits.
Even after veterans reach full retirement age, VA's disability payments continue at the same level. By contrast, the income that people receive after they retire (from Social Security or private pensions) usually is less than their earnings from wages and salary before retirement.What is the VA age 55 rule? ›
Based on the results of the exam, your disability rating may increase, decrease, or stay the same. Once you turn 55, you are typically "protected" and will no longer have to attend an exam to prove that your condition has not changed unless there is reason to suspect fraud. This is sometimes called the 55-year rule.How do I get 100% VA disability for mental health? ›
100% Mental Health VA Rating
To be rated at the 100% rating level for your mental health condition, your symptoms must be so severe that they prevent you from being able to take care of yourself. Your mental health condition would need to interfere significantly with your daily life.
Thankfully, the VA now recognizes service-connected conditions like anxiety, depression, and adjustment disorder. Each of these can have a profound impact on your ability to live your day-to-day life and work.
How does the VA determine mental health disability? ›
For VA purposes, you can only be rated for one mental health condition. VA will review the entire body of evidence to gain a clear understanding of how your mental health condition symptoms impact your social and industrial functioning and which diagnosed mental health condition(s) may be related to your claim.Will VA disability get a raise in 2023? ›
Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, Veterans and beneficiaries who receive VA compensation benefits will see an 8.7% increase in their monthly payments—the largest increase in over 30 years. The annual COLA increase is tied to the Social Security rate change and is based on the consumer price index (CPI).Is it hard to go from 90 to 100 VA disability? ›
There are three negatives to consider when deciding if you should attempt to go from a 90% to 100% VA rating. First, be prepared for a lengthy appeal. The VA backlog of appeals has been as high as 475,000. The cases in the backlog are claims that have been in the queue for more than 125 days without a decision.What is the VA rating for stress? ›
Your VA disability rating, for mental health issues such as acute stress disorder, can be one of six levels: 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, or 100 percent. The VA assigns you one of these ratings based its opinion of the severity of your condition.How do I prove anxiety for VA disability? ›
Meeting VA's Requirements for Anxiety Claims
Veterans can prove entitlement to service connection by pointing to service records from around the time they first noticed psychological symptoms while on active duty. Lay statements, counseling records, or records of job changes may also be useful.
TDIU for Insomnia
To qualify, a veteran must prove that they are unable to find and maintain gainful employment due to their condition. Remember that earlier we pointed out earlier that Insomnia does not have its own official diagnostic code or rating, but instead it's usually compared and rated like mental disorders.
Major Depressive Disorder Disability Ratings
100% benefits are available even if the Veteran is not 100% disabled. Available under the rating scheme known as “total disability due to individual unemployability,” or TDIU. As long as the veteran's ratings meet other conditions.
All veterans with a mental disorder diagnosis are given a minimum rating of 10%, which entitles them to cost-free treatment for the condition.How often does VA re evaluate mental health? ›
Reexaminations, also called periodic future examinations, are typically scheduled every 2 to 5 years. A veteran who has a prestabilization rating (given to someone with a service-connected condition who recently left the service) is required to be reexamined between 6 and 12 months of leaving the service.What is a C&P exam for mental disorders? ›
Once a veteran files a VA claim for PTSD, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs will make the veteran undergo a Compensation and Pension Examination (C&P exam) VA will verify the diagnosis for posttraumatic stress disorder even if the veteran already has a diagnosis of PTSD from a qualified medical ...