Depression is an unfortunate reality for many veterans. Tragically, not everyone gets the help they need, as evidenced by the recent increase in veteran suicides. If you or a loved one are facing depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts, speak to a professional immediately. Then consider whether you may be entitled to disability benefits for your depression.
The VA rates mental health conditions in a different manner than it does physical disabilities. Although a veteran suffering from depression may qualify for service-connected compensation, it is not guaranteed. A New Orleans VA disability attorney can help you apply for these benefits.
It is common for veterans to experience depression after being discharged from service. The VA’s 2016 Clinical Practice Guideline defines depression as a common mood disorder characterized by:
- Depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
- Decreased energy
- Feelings of guilt or low self-worth
- Disturbed sleep or appetite
- Poor concentration
Major depressive disorder further complicates these feelings. It results in decreased productivity and a higher risk of suicide. When depression interferes with a veteran’s overall quality of life, it could rise to the level of a disability.
The first step veterans must do to qualify for benefits is to demonstrate the depression is connected to their service. There are several ways to do this. One is to show a direct service connection, which is established with the following evidence:
A diagnosis of depression. The veteran must show a current diagnosis, usually documented by medical records.
An in-service event. The depression must be caused by an incident or event that took place during military service.
A nexus between the depression and the in-service event. This requires some sort of proof that military service likely caused the condition.
The type of evidence relied upon to demonstrate this nexus can vary from one veteran to another. Typically, it includes a written statement from a healthcare professional, although other documentation may suffice. A New Orleans VA disability attorney can assist with gathering this evidence. The goal is to show causation between the in-service activity and the depression diagnosis.
A veteran’s depression may be the result of some other service-connected condition. This is where secondary service connections may also be used to establish a benefits claim. Secondary service connections exist because the VA recognizes that physical impairments can themselves cause mental health problems. In order to qualify under this standard, the veteran must first have a current diagnosis of depression. In addition, there must be medical evidence showing the relationship between the service-connected disability and the depression.
In some cases, military service aggravated an already existing condition of depression. Proving this requires evidence that it is at least as likely as not that service worsened the depression. This evidence is usually in the form of a medical opinion by a healthcare professional.
The VA will assign the veteran a disability rating to assess the nature of the depression. The ratings are 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, and 100 percent. The exact rating you will receive is based on how disruptive your condition is to your daily life. A 0% rating indicates that even though the depression is service-connected, there is no impact on quality of life. On the other hand, a 100% rating means the veteran is suffering severe symptoms as a result of the depression.
Our Law Firm Can Help You Qualify For The Compensation You Need
If you are ready to apply for benefits, you will first want to gather all evidence documenting your condition. Primarily this includes medical records, although witness statements and other evidence may help validate your claim. You’ll next want to research the applicable regulations and fill out the necessary paperwork. This is where having a New Orleans VA disability attorney can help. There are countless rules which govern this process, and the forms can be complicated and time-consuming.
The team at Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC, has extensive experience with VA benefits claims. We also help veterans appeal unfavorable decisions and receive any compensation that is unfairly denied. Be sure you get the professional treatment you need for depression, anxiety, and other conditions. Then give us a call and let our attorneys help with your claim.