If you served in the military and later experienced a form of disability, you could be eligible for VA physical disability benefits. Because disability benefits cover a wide range of injuries and illnesses, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a rating system to determine the severity of each case.
How Are Physical Disabilities Rated in a VA Disability Claim?
Disability compensation is a monthly tax-free benefit paid to military service veterans who are at least 10% disabled. Their disabilities must be from injuries or diseases incurred in or aggravated during active duty—or active or inactive duty for training (i.e., “service-connected”). Any physical condition that limits the ability of the body to function under the ordinary conditions of daily life can be considered a physical disability.
The compensation a disabled veteran receives from the government for a physical disability is graduated according to the degree of disability (this is also true for a mental disorder). VA rates the disability identified in each veteran’s benefit claim on a scale from 10% to 100%. Multiple disabilities are awarded a combined rating according to a set VA formula. Therefore, it is crucial for a veteran to submit a claim that results in the highest disability rating possible for their medical condition.
Veterans disability advocates help veterans obtain accurate ratings and proper benefits for service-connected disabilities through the decision review process. They assist disabled veterans with reviews of denied or improperly rated claims. The objective is to ensure that every vet assisted obtains ALL of the disability benefits he or she deserves. VA advocates also work to make sure their clients begin to get this needed compensation as FAST as possible. No fee if no recovery.
Is My Disability Rating Permanent?
If you apply for VA benefits due to physical disabilities, it is important to remember that the rating you receive for your injuries or disabilities is not necessarily permanent. Your rating can change due to the decision review process or a change in the condition of your physical disabilities.
If you feel as though you did not receive the rating you deserve, it could be helpful to discuss your situation with a VA advocate so that you better understand your options to fight for a more appropriate level of compensation.
Will I Qualify for VA Disability Benefits?
Because every disability case is unique, it is impossible to definitely say that you will qualify for benefits. However, there are specific requirements to receive VA disability benefits—if you fulfill these requirements, there is a fair chance you will receive the benefits you deserve. The following qualifying factors could come into play in your case:
- Evidence of your injury: In order to have a successful claim, you must provide proof of your injury. If you do not have any documentation to support the moment of injury, a medical professional can provide a statement.
- Proof of service: Because VA benefits are established for veterans of the military, you will have to organize specific documents you have pertaining to your service.
- Establishing a connection between service and injury: You must establish that your injury was directly related to your military service in order for your claim to be recognized.
Additionally, you could be required to organize and submit other documents related to employment history, how your life has been impacted by your injuries, past healthcare, and much more.
If the application process feels daunting, remember that you do not have to go through this alone. A VA benefits advocate near you is available to help you understand each step of the process.
Good Results. Happy Clients.
How Does VA Evaluate Disability for Mental Disorders?
In general, a military service veteran is rated as eligible for veterans disability compensation due to a 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 the evidence presented in the veteran’s claim, the examiner is to consider:
- Occupational and social impairment the mental disorder causes, 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. These 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.
Gaining 100% Disability for a Mental Disorder
By contrast, a 100% disability due to a 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 their family members and other associates—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?
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:
- Other specified and unspecified schizophrenia
- Psychotic disorder not otherwise specified (atypical psychosis)
- 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
- An 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
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Other specified anxiety disorders
- 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 disorders
- Unspecified somatic symptom and related disorders
- Conversion disorder (functional neurological symptom disorder)
- Illness anxiety disorder
- Cyclothymic disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia)
- Major depressive disorder
- An unspecified depressive disorder
- Chronic adjustment disorder
Single vs. Multiple Disability Ratings
In cases of neurocognitive disorders, 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, 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.
VA benefits advocates can assist you with a veterans disability benefits appeal based on a mental disorder. They help disabled veterans and veterans’ family members locate and obtain existing military and medical records required to substantiate claims. Advocates can also refer clients to known and trusted medical professionals who can provide exams or medical opinions (via VA Disability Benefits Questionnaires) that meet VA claim evaluators’ standards when needed.
Hiring a Veterans Disability Advocate to Help
Having an advocate by your side while you pursue physical disability benefits could prove beneficial in many different ways. An advocate can answer your questions, help with tedious paperwork, organize your case, help you meet deadlines, manage expectations for future compensation, offer general support, and more.
An advocacy group can alleviate stress in your life by handling the details of your claim, so you can spend more time with the people you care about and doing the things you love. If you think you are ready to take action, an advocacy group near you is standing by to help you fight for a brighter future.
Veterans benefits advocates offer assistance and guidance with what’s best for the disabled veteran in mind. A VA advocate’s 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 as possible. 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 an advocacy group 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 an advocate take on the VA bureaucracy for you.