Mental Disorders and Veterans Disability Benefits
What psych issues qualify in the eyes of a VA disability claims examiner?
Military service veterans who are disabled by mental or psychiatric disorders are eligible for veterans’ disability benefits, just as they are provided by the VA to vets with physical injuries. A vet who is disabled by mental illness which began in service or is due to service should not go without assistance the veteran has earned by sacrificing for their country.
VA Disability Mental Disorders Rating
Benefits are available for veterans suffering from medical disorders as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), published by the American Psychiatric Association. This means virtually any mental disorder is covered. What’s left is for the veteran to demonstrate that his or her illness is service-connected and the level of disability it creates for the vet.
Psychiatric Disability Benefits
Rating a mental or psychological disability for the purpose of assigning a monetary benefit can be more subjective than it is for a physical disability. However, our advocates can help veterans obtain fair ratings and proper benefits for mental disorders. Through our experience with the VA and multiple disabled veterans’ disability claims, we can help you with your appeal process to establish service connection or a higher rating for your mental or psychological disability.
Don’t go it alone against the VA bureaucracy when your family’s economic needs are on the line. Call Disabled Vets to get ALL veterans’ disability benefits you deserve as soon as possible.
How Does the VA Evaluate Disability from Mental Disorders?
In general, a military service veteran is rated as eligible for veterans’ disability compensation due to mental disorder if:
- The veteran’s mental disorder is due to or began in service and is rated 10% or more.
Once a claim evaluator has determined the veteran’s mental disability is service-connected, he or she will determine the level of disability it inflicts upon the veteran. Based on evidence presented in the veteran’s claim, the examiner is to consider:
- Occupational and social impairment caused by the mental disorder, and frequency, severity, and duration of psychiatric symptoms
- Length of remissions
- The veteran’s capacity for adjustment during periods of remission
A 10% disability rating, the threshold for obtaining benefits, requires occupational and social impairment due to mild or transient symptoms which decrease work efficiency and ability to perform occupational tasks only during periods of significant stress, or symptoms are controlled by continuous medication.
However, if a mental condition has been formally diagnosed, but symptoms are not severe enough either to interfere with the veteran’s occupational and social functioning or to require continuous medication, a disability rating of 0% will be returned.
By contrast, a 100% disability due to mental disorder is granted in cases of 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 self or others
- Intermittent inability to perform activities of daily living (including maintenance of minimal personal hygiene)
- Disorientation to time or place
- Memory loss for names of close relatives, own occupation, or own name
In addition to medical records, statements as to the vet’s capacities by the veteran, as well as family members and other associates of the veteran, may be submitted as evidence of mental symptoms.
This is much more an art than a science. In other words, you’ll probably need a lot of help and resources to, in the government’s view “Get it right.”
What Mental Disorders May Qualify for Veterans Disability Benefits?
The VA takes its cue for what mental disorders can be debilitating and what symptoms constitute these disorders from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), of the American Psychiatric Association.
This includes but is not limited to such disorders as:
- Delusional disorder
- Other specified and unspecified schizophrenia
- Psychotic disorder not otherwise specified (atypical psychosis)
- Schizoaffective disorder
- Major or mild neurocognitive disorder due to HIV, syphilis, or other systemic or intracranial infections
- Major or mild neurocognitive disorder due to traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Major or mild vascular neurocognitive disorder
- Unspecified neurocognitive disorder
- Major or mild neurocognitive disorder due to Alzheimer’s disease
- Major or mild neurocognitive disorder due to another medical condition or substance/medication-induced major or mild neurocognitive disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Specific phobia
- Social Anxiety disorder (social phobia)
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Other specified anxiety disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Panic disorder and/or agoraphobia
- Unspecified anxiety disorder
- Dissociative amnesia; dissociative identity disorder
- Depersonalization/derealization disorder
- Somatic symptom disorder
- Other specified somatic symptom and related disorder
- Unspecified somatic symptom and related disorder
- Conversion disorder (functional neurological symptom disorder)
- Illness anxiety disorder
- Cyclothymic disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia)
- Major depressive disorder
- Unspecified depressive disorder
- Chronic adjustment disorder
In cases of neurocognitive disorders, the VA evaluates them under mental disorder guidelines. Physical impairments from the same illness or injury (e.g., HIV, TBI, Alzheimer’s) will in some instances be evaluated separately, and then the two ratings are combined.
When a single disability has been diagnosed both as a physical condition and as a mental disorder, the VA is to evaluate it using a diagnostic code that represents the dominant (more disabling) aspect of the condition.
If you are a veteran or the loved one of a veteran disabled by any of the mental disorders listed above — or any other psychological condition — you have a right to seek veterans’ disability benefits, which you likely qualify for if your condition is service-connected.
Our advocates can assist you with a veterans’ disability benefits appeal based on a mental disorder. We help disabled veterans and veterans’ family members locate and obtain existing military and medical records required to substantiate claims. We also refer clients to known and trusted medical professionals who can provide exams or medical opinions (via Disability Benefits Questionnaires) that meet VA claim evaluators’ standards, when needed.
Trust Our Advocates with Your VA Benefits Claim
We know what military veterans go through, and we offer assistance and guidance with what’s best for the disabled veteran in mind.
Our objective is to help disabled veterans and their families understand disability laws and obtain the maximum VA disability benefit available to them as quickly and as easily for the vet and family as possible. The VA is a complex and overburdened bureaucracy that regularly drops the ball on valid claims for benefits that disabled American veterans and their families badly need.
Contact Disabled Vets today for experienced and compassionate assistance with a VA benefits appeal based on a service-connected mental / psychological disorder. You don’t have to go it alone. Let us take on the VA bureaucracy for you.