When military members leave service and return to their civilian lives, they often have difficulty feeling “normal.” Mental health conditions far too often plague our veterans, and major depressive disorder, commonly called depression, is one of the biggest problems.
In this article, we’ll discuss how veterans can receive a VA disability rating for depression, how depression relates to PTSD, how to file for benefits, and what to do if you’re denied VA disability compensation for major depressive disorder. If depression interferes with your life after serving, help is available. No veteran should have to suffer because of paperwork issues or wrongful denials.
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In this article about the VA rating for depression:
- Can you claim depression as a VA disability?
- Secondary service-connected impairments and major depressive disorder
- VA disability for depression and co-occurring disorders
- Depression and Individual Unemployability benefits
- How to apply for VA disability benefits for depression
- VA disability for depression denials and appeals
- Talk to a VA disability benefits lawyer
Can you claim depression as a VA disability?
VA disability law provides disability payments to those who developed a health condition as a result of their service in the military. Vets may also qualify if their service worsened a condition.
Of course, no two veterans are the same. Some get denied VA disability for depression. Others receive a VA rating of 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%. As you can see in the table below, you could receive $165.92 a month for a 10% rating and $3,621.95 a month for a 100% rating.
|Disability Rating||Monthly Payment (veteran only)|
It’s an unfortunate fact, but depression is common among veterans. In fact, some studies suggest the rate of major depressive disorder is five times higher among vets than non-vets.
Because common conditions among vets — like traumatic brain injury (TBI) and depression — often occur together, veterans are at increased risk of dealing with issues that can interfere with their ability to work or lead a normal life.
If you are experiencing depression and believe it is related to your service, filing for VA disability benefits will bring you a step closer to receiving the benefits you earned through service.
Secondary service-connected impairments and major depressive disorder
If depression isn’t your primary impairment, it can still help you receive a higher rating. If you’re able to service connect depression — even if it’s secondary to a physical impairment — you may receive a higher monthly benefit amount.
Major depressive disorder often occurs in vets who experience long-term physical pain, which would make depression secondary to your physical impairment. For example, a veteran with chronic back pain may develop severe depression when unable to participate in regular activities.
As we’ll discuss in the next section, major depressive disorder often co-occurs with other mental conditions. Whether the condition is listed as primary or secondary, it’s important to include all conditions on your claim seeking VA disability for depression in order to increase your benefits rating.
However, if you have more than one mental health condition, the VA will likely award a single rating that compensates you for all symptoms rather than a separate evaluation for each diagnosed condition.
VA disability for depression and co-occurring disorders
Unfortunately, depression often isn’t the only struggle veterans deal with after their service. Former service members face a range of common co-occurring disorders, which can make each condition more difficult to treat.
Some of the most common disorders that simultaneously occur with major depressive disorder include anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and schizophrenia.
More than two-thirds of Afghanistan and Iraq combat veterans with PTSD also experience depression.
You can apply for VA disability benefits for PTSD and depression at the same time. You will probably receive a single rating for all your mental health conditions. Vets with more severe symptoms typically receive higher VA ratings.
Depression and Individual Unemployability benefits
If you’re unable to work due to depression or other mental and physical conditions, you may be eligible for Individual Unemployability (IU or TDIU) benefits. You are eligible for TDIU if you are unable to maintain gainful employment because of a service-connected disability or a combination of service-connected disabilities.
If you have one disability that precludes you from working, it must be rated at least 60%. If you have more than one service-connected condition, you must have a combined rating of 70%, and at least one of the conditions must be rated at 40% or higher.
How to apply for VA disability benefits for depression
Mistakes in the application process are a leading cause for wrongfully denied VA disability claims. Stick to the following steps, and you’ll improve your chances of receiving the benefits you’ve earned.
- Gather your evidence: The VA doesn’t simply take you at your word when you file for disability benefits. You must provide evidence that can help them grant service connection and assign an appropriate VA disability benefits rating. This means you’ll need to gather medical evidence supporting your claim.
- Do your research: Before filing for VA disability for depression, do a bit of research about the process. There are actually thousands of federal regulations you can take advantage of. For instance, some regulations offer the chance to expedite your claim.
- Fill out the application: When completing the application for benefits, it’s vital that you provide all requested information correctly. Even minor mistakes can delay your claim.
- Ask for a qualified opinion: Before submitting your paperwork, contact our law firm for a qualified opinion. We never charge veterans for help filing the initial application. We’re ready to answer all your questions. This will ensure you get your application right the first time, and that means you could avoid the VA disability appeals process entirely.
- Submit the application: Once you’ve completed your application and received a qualified opinion, make sure you send it to the right place. Veterans often send their claims to the wrong VA regional office which can slow down the process considerably. Call us today if you aren’t sure where to send your application. We’ll get you the correct information.
- Continue treatment with doctors: Don’t cease medical treatment just because you got the paperwork you needed to file. If you end up needing a VA disability rating appeal, we can use continued treatment as evidence in your appeal.
VA disability for depression denials and appeals
Many veterans’ initial VA disability claims are denied. No one is perfect, and mistakes can occur at any step in the process. Regardless of the reason for the denial, thousands of veterans contact us each year after being denied VA disability benefits.
If you’ve been denied VA disability for major depressive disorder, it doesn’t mean that you’re not entitled to benefits. If your claim was denied or if you didn’t get the rating you think you deserve, you can appeal within 12 months of the decision date. If it’s been longer than a year since you first filed, you can submit a brand new claim, which starts the process over.
Talk to a VA disability benefits lawyer
Whether you’re just starting the claims process or need to submit an appeal, Woods & Woods is here to help. Since 1985, we’ve fought for injured and disabled veterans. We’re recognized nationally as a leading veterans disability benefits law firm, and we’ve helped thousands of veterans and their family members.
We also offer free claim evaluations for those seeking VA benefits for depression and other conditions. If you decide to hire us, we never charge a fee unless your benefits claim is successful. Our fee is a percentage of your back pay and case expenses — we’ll never bill by the hour or touch your future benefits.
When you hire Woods & Woods, you’ll gain access to experienced veterans disability lawyers and large support staff. Your team will include attorneys, doctors, case managers, and psychologists. We’ll strive to ensure your VA disability for depression claim is successful — and we’ll fight to make sure you get every penny you deserve.
Talk to Us About Your Claim:
Get a Free Consultation Today!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I get VA disability benefits for depression?
If you developed depression as a result of your military service or if your condition worsened because of your service, you may qualify for VA benefits.
What if my depression is so bad that I can’t work?
If your service-connected depression is preventing you from keeping a job, you may be eligible for Individual Unemployability (IU or TDIU) benefits. You are eligible for TDIU if you are unable to maintain gainful employment because of a service-connected disability or a combination of service-connected disabilities.
What is the average VA rating for depression? ›
30% VA Rating for Depression
“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.
The VA rates a Veteran's disability related to their depression between 0% and 100%. Like all of the VA's mental health disability ratings, these ratings are based on the severity of symptoms and the level of occupational or social impairment.Can you get a VA disability rating for depression? ›
If you're a veteran who's been diagnosed with depression, it's possible you could qualify for disability from the VA. Cited under Mood disorders and rated under the Psychological Rating System, major depressive disorder—also referred to as clinical depression—is called out under Code 9434.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 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 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 hard is it to get disability for depression? ›
Like other conditions with symptoms that are based on emotional distress, a disability based on depression can be difficult to prove to the Social Security Administration because the symptoms are often difficult to measure. Additionally, just being diagnosed with depression is not enough to qualify for benefits.What does 80% disability get you in VA? ›
As of December 1, 2022, veterans who are rated at 80 percent will receive $1,933.15 per month. However, this amount typically changes each year to reflect changes in the cost-of-living. Below is the amount of compensation awarded for each percentage: 0 percent disability rating: $0.00 per month.What is 70 percent VA disability mental health? ›
70% rating: Unable to function in most social and work areas with symptoms such as obsessive behaviors, illogical speech, depression and panic so persistent that it interferes with ability to function, suicidal thinking, inability to control impulses (including becoming violent without provocation), neglecting self- ...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.
What is 90% VA disability rate? ›
What is the compensation for a 90% VA Disability Rating? 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 70% VA rating for PTSD? ›
Per VA's rating criteria, a 70% PTSD rating reflects that you display impairment in most areas such as, work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, and mood. 70% PTSD rating lists several symptoms that affect occupational and social function.Does the VA combine depression and anxiety? ›
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 do I prove anxiety to the VA? ›
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.
VA Disability Ratings for Anxiety and Depression
For most anxiety and depression disorders, VA offers ratings of 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, and 100%.
- Mental Health Conditions.
- Musculoskeletal Conditions.
- Presumptive Conditions.
Again, you just have to prove that the condition is service-related. Those who deal with minor social and occupational impairment because of their anxiety receive a 30% VA rating. At this stage, your anxiety could hinder your ability to work, but won't prevent you from finding a job entirely.How much is anxiety VA rating? ›
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.What is the most approved disability? ›
What Is the Most Approved Disability? Arthritis and other musculoskeletal system disabilities make up the most commonly approved conditions for social security disability benefits. This is because arthritis is so common. In the United States, over 58 million people suffer from arthritis.How can I prove my mental health disability? ›
To prove your mental disability, you will need to have medical documentations, records and notes from any physicians you are seeing to show that your mental disability makes it impossible for you to work full time. The more medical evidence you have, the easier it is to prove your mental disability.
Is depression a permanent disability? ›
Yes. You should be able to get long-term disability benefits if you are unable to work due to depression. In order to get LTD payments, you must: Have either a group benefits plan through your employer or a private insurance plan.Is it hard to go from 80 to 100 VA disability? ›
Because of the way in which VA adds disabilities together, it is difficult to go from a schedular 80 percent to a schedular 100 percent rating. You would need to have another condition rated at 80 percent in order to receive a 100 percent combined schedular rating.What does 50% VA disability entitle you to? ›
As of December 1, 2022, veterans with a 50 percent VA disability rating receive $1,041.82 per month in tax-free compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The exact amount of compensation may increase or decrease each year depending on the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).What do I say to get 70% PTSD compensation? ›
The 70% rating criteria for PTSD include occupational and social impairment and deficiencies. Veterans with a 70% PTSD rating show the following symptoms: problems in most areas of their life, such as work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood.How much disability do you get for anxiety and depression? ›
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
In 2022, the maximum monthly amounts will be: $841 for an eligible individual.
Compensation benefits at the 30% level
Veterans with no dependents at the 30% rating level receive $467.39 per month for 2022. You receive extra monthly compensation for dependents starting at the 30% rating level and above. Learn more about adding an eligible dependent to your compensation benefits.
As you might expect, it is difficult to obtain a 100% VA disability rating with just one service-connected disability. Most veterans who receive a 100% rating have two or more disabling conditions. Often, these conditions have a secondary service connection.How do I increase my VA disability from 70% to 100? ›
- 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.
Mental and psychological disabilities qualify for Social Security disability benefits. And while mental health cases can be harder to win, around 34.6% of people who receive benefits receive them for a mental health disorder of some kind.How much is 100 percent VA disability 2023? ›
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.
What will 2023 VA disability rates be? ›
- $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.
50 percent disability rating: $1,041.82 per month. 60 percent disability rating: $1,319.65 per month. 70 percent disability rating: $1,663.06 per month. 80 percent disability rating: $1,933.15 per month.Is 60% VA disability good? ›
Disabled veterans with a 60% rating can get various benefits to cover treatment and the effects of the condition in their personal life. While the rates may vary depending on the state, most regions compensate for unemployability and provide a monthly allowance to cover other expenses.Is PTSD an automatic 50 percent? ›
There is technically an automatic 50% disability rating for PTSD. However, not every veteran that has PTSD will get a 50% disability rating automatically. Furthermore, the automatic 50% disability rating is only for a limited time and covers a very specific set of circumstances.Can you still work with a 70 VA disability? ›
Yes, in most cases, a veteran can work while receiving VA disability.What is the VA rating scale for mental health? ›
For mental illnesses, possible VA disability ratings are 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, or 100 percent. A rating of 0 percent does not qualify for you for monthly compensation. A rating of 100 percent indicates total occupational and social impairment and thus qualifies you for the maximum benefit amount.What is the most common VA disability rating? ›
According to the VA's most recent VA disability compensation report, the most common VA disability ratings by percentage are 100% and 10%. Of the 5,225,420 veterans with a service-connected VA rating, the most common combined VA rating is 100% (18.45% of recipients) followed by 10% (17.13% of recipients).What does 80% VA disability get you? ›
How Much Compensation Do Veterans Rated at 80 Percent Receive? As of December 1, 2022, veterans who are rated at 80 percent will receive $1,933.15 per month. However, this amount typically changes each year to reflect changes in the cost-of-living.What does 90% VA disability entitle you to? ›
Veterans at a 90% VA Disability Ratings are eligible to be placed in VA Health Care Priority Group 1, which is the highest priority group for receiving health care benefits. Members of Group 1 will receive health care services with no copays. Some of the services they are entitled to include: Preventative care.What does the VA pay for 80% 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.
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.How do I get 70% VA disability for anxiety? ›
The VA's requirements for anxiety claims
You must have a formal diagnosis of your condition and link the disability to your active duty service. You must also present any medical records and lay evidence that shows the severity of your anxiety.
The #1 Easiest VA Disability to Claim: Tinnitus
93.6% of Veterans were rated at 10%. Tinnitus can only have one VA rating. It is either 10% or nothing. There is no lower VA rating and there is no higher VA rating.
No, there aren't any VA disability claims that cannot be proven. In fact, all VA claims must be proven on an “at least as likely as not” basis. If you have no evidence (no proof), your VA claim will get denied.