If you’re suffering from anxiety that’s related to your military service, you may be eligible for VA disability compensation for an anxiety VA rating from 10% to 100%.
The VA estimates that 43% of veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan have at least one mental illness, which includes anxiety. Despite how common anxiety is amongst veterans, less than 25% of these veterans suffering from mental health issues seek support and benefits.
Today, we discuss how to get the anxiety VA rating you deserve.
- How Anxiety Impacts Veterans
- Types of Anxiety
- How to Get an Anxiety VA Rating
- How the VA Rates Anxiety
- Anxiety VA Rating Levels
- The Anxiety Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ)
- NEED MORE ASSISTANCE?
You DESERVE a HIGHER VA rating.
WE CAN HELP.
Take advantage of a FREE VA Claim Discovery Call with an experienced Team Member. Learn what you’ve been missing so you can FINALLY get the disability rating and compensation you’ve earned for your service.
How Anxiety Impacts Veterans
As a veteran, you may have experienced anxiety during and after your service. Anxiety is a common mental health condition that affects many veterans, and it can have a significant impact on your daily life.
Anxiety can manifest in various ways, such as constantly feeling on edge, having panic attacks, experiencing social anxiety, or having difficulty sleeping. These symptoms can interfere with your ability to work, socialize, and carry out everyday tasks. They can also lead to other issues, such as depression, substance abuse, and suicide.
If you’re experiencing anxiety, it’s essential to seek help. The VA offers various mental health services to veterans, including therapy and medication. These services can help you manage your anxiety and improve your overall well-being. Additionally, an anxiety VA rating can help provide you with additional benefits to improve your quality of life.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Here are some common symptoms of anxiety you may be facing:
- Constant worry or feeling on edge
- Racing thoughts or inability to concentrate
- Physical symptoms such as muscle tension, headaches, and stomach issues
- Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
- Panic attacks, which may involve a rapid heart rate, sweating, trembling, and shortness of breath
- Avoidance of certain situations or activities due to fear or anxiety
- Irritability or agitation
- Social anxiety or difficulty with social interactions
- Feeling overwhelmed or out of control
- Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol to cope with anxiety
It’s important to remember that everyone experiences anxiety differently, and you may not have all of these symptoms. Additionally, some of these symptoms can be related to other mental health conditions, so it’s important to speak with a mental health professional to get a proper diagnosis.
Types of Anxiety
Let’s break down the different types of anxiety that veterans can have.
Is generalized anxiety disorder a disability?
Yes, generalized anxiety disorder is a VA-recognized disability that may entitle you to disability compensation. However, the VA classifies anxiety disorders into six different types. The VA uses different diagnostic codes to better understand and treat the condition of veterans.
The commonly diagnosed anxiety disorders recognized by the VA include:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (DC 9400) – Generalized anxiety disorder is when you have severe, uncontrollable worry about everyday things. This worry can often be irrational.
- Social Phobia (DC 9403) – This code covers all phobias, including social anxiety disorder (or social phobia). Phobias are irrational, severe fears tied to specific things or situations and can range from fear of spiders to fear of public places. They can be so severe that they lead to panic attacks or violence.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (DC 9404): Obsessive-compulsive disorder is when anxiety causes repetitive actions to reduce fear. This can include washing hands excessively or repeating specific numbers. The repetitive actions can interfere with daily tasks and work.
- Other Specified Anxiety Disorder (DC 9410): This code covers all other specific anxiety disorders that aren’t mentioned anywhere else.
- Panic Disorder or Agoraphobia (DC 9412): This code covers panic disorder and agoraphobia. Panic disorder is a condition where severe panic attacks occur in stressful or fearful situations. Agoraphobia is the fear of public places that can also cause panic attacks.
- Unspecified Anxiety Disorder (DC 9413): This code covers all other unspecified anxiety disorders that don’t have a specific name.
While PTSD usually goes hand-in-hand with anxiety, we’ve created a separate post on winning your PTSD claim to learn more about this common illness impacting veterans. You’ll only receive one rating for mental health conditions, even if you’re experiencing both anxiety and PTSD.
How to Get an Anxiety VA Rating
You need to meet three criteria to win your VA claim for anxiety:
- A medical diagnosis of anxiety
- A link, or medical nexus, that your anxiety was caused or made worse by your military service (service connection)
- Current and ongoing symptoms of anxiety
Service Connection and Anxiety
Service connection is a crucial aspect of any VA disability claim. It refers to the link between your current medical condition and your time in military service. To be eligible for VA disability benefits for anxiety, you must first establish a service connection for your anxiety.
Medical service treatment records with an in-service diagnosis of anxiety are the easiest way to show that your anxiety is related to your military service. However, a medical nexus is also extremely helpful in proving that your anxiety is at least as likely as not related to your military service.
However, due to mental health stigmas, many veterans don’t get seen by doctors during service. If this applies to you, you can also use service records to show you were experiencing symptoms during your service, even if you weren’t officially diagnosed.
Examples could include performance reports indicating a sudden change in your job performance, counseling records, or other service records.
How the VA Rates Anxiety
Currently, the VA could give you an anxiety VA rating of 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%, depending on the severity of your symptoms. The average anxiety VA disability rating is 70%.
The Five Domains of Functional Impairment
The latest changes in this system have introduced a new way to evaluate the impact of anxiety on your daily life. This new approach is called the Five Domains of Functional Impairment, and it’s designed to better understand the difficulties that veterans like you with anxiety face.
The five domains are:
- Understanding and communicating – How well you can use your mind to understand and remember things. Looking at things like your memory, focus, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.
- Moving around and getting around – How well you can move around and be in different places. This includes leaving your home, crowded spaces, and using transportation.
- Interacting with people and participating in society – How well you can connect with others. Looking at both your personal and professional relationships.
- Task completion and life activities – How well you can do things like work, school, household chores, and caring for others.
- Self-care – How well you can take care of yourself. This includes things like grooming, dressing, and eating properly.
The VA uses a General Rating Formula that assesses the intensity of your anxiety across the five domains. The intensity refers to the difficulty you face in completing tasks and participating in life activities due to your anxiety.
To determine the intensity of your anxiety, the VA evaluates the following levels:
- None: No difficulties are associated with the domain.
- Mild: Some slight difficulties in one or more aspects of the domain don’t interfere with tasks, activities, or relationships.
- Moderate: There are clinically significant difficulties in one or more aspects of the domain that interfere with tasks, activities, or relationships.
- Severe: There are serious difficulties in one or more aspects of the domain that interfere with tasks, activities, or relationships.
- Total: There are profound difficulties in one or more aspects of the domain that can’t be managed or remediated, resulting in complete interference with tasks, activities, or relationships.
The VA will assign a score to each domain, based on the frequency and intensity of the impairment, with scores ranging from 0 to 4. A score of 4 in one or more domains can lead to a 100% VA disability rating for anxiety.
Anxiety VA Rating Levels
Here are the exact VA disability for anxiety ratings you may be eligible for based on your symptoms.
0% Anxiety VA Rating
If you’ve been diagnosed with anxiety but don’t have any symptoms that interfere with your ability to work or interact with others (or to require medication), you’ll be rated at 0%.
10% Anxiety VA Rating
You have very mild symptoms at the 10% VA rating for anxiety. If you take medication that keeps your symptoms under control, you’ll likely be rated at 10%.
30% Anxiety VA Rating
At the 30% level, you have occasional issues with work. You might not be up to performing self-care and routine tasks all the time. However, you can generally still function, and these periods of anxiety don’t happen very often. You could also be experiencing:
- Some insomnia
- Mild memory loss
- Panic attacks
A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that causes a severe physical reaction and results in intense anxiety. If you’re experiencing panic attacks, they happen less than once per week. Symptoms of a panic attack include:
- High blood pressure
- Racing heart
- Blurred vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Hearing issues
- Numbness or tingling
- Difficulty breathing
- Diarrhea or constipation
50% Anxiety VA Rating
At the 50% level, you’re moderately impacted by your anxiety. The main difference between 30% and 50% is an increased difficulty in maintaining personal relationships.
You’re also experiencing panic attacks more than once per week.
70% Anxiety VA Rating
At the 70% level, your anxiety is causing issues in most areas of your life (school, work, family, judgment, thinking, or mood). Notably, if you’re experiencing suicidal ideations, this is the minimum level you’re likely to be rated. Other symptoms at this rating include:
- Constant panic or depression impacting your ability to function independently
- Impaired impulse control
- Difficulty adapting to stressful situations
- Inability to maintain relationships
100% Anxiety VA Rating
If your anxiety is causing you severe issues at home and work, you could be rated at the 100% level. You may not even be able to work because your anxiety is so detrimental.
You’re likely suffering from any number of these symptoms:
- Impaired thought processes or communication
- Hallucinations or delusions
- Inappropriate behavior
- Danger of hurting yourself or others
- Lack of personal hygiene or other daily tasks
- Memory loss
Understanding the new system of evaluating anxiety and how it can impact your VA claim is important. With this knowledge, you can work towards getting the proper recognition and support for the difficulties you face every day due to your anxiety.
The Anxiety Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ)
When applying for an anxiety VA rating, you’ll complete the disability benefits questionnaire for mental disorders other than PTSD and eating disorders, which can be found here.
Your provider will answer the following question:
Which of the following best summarizes the veteran’s level of occupational and social impairment with regard to all mental diagnoses?
They will only be able to select one choice. This part of the form is the most important part, as it indicates how severely your anxiety impacts your life. These options relate directly to different ratings for anxiety.
- No mental disorder diagnosis
- Total occupational and social impairment
- Occupational and social impairment with deficiencies in most areas, such as work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, and mood
- Occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity
- Occupational and social impairment with occasional decrease in work efficiency and intermittent periods of inability to perform occupational tasks, although generally functioning satisfactorily, with normal routine behavior, self-care, and conversation
- 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 controlled by medication
- A mental condition has been formally diagnosed, but symptoms are not severe enough either to interfere with occupational and social functioning or
- to require continuous medication
At your Compensation and Pension exam, ensure you answer all questions thoroughly to accurately communicate to the doctor which level you’re at. Your C&P Exam is not the time to downplay your symptoms.
Get the Anxiety VA Rating You Deserve
As a veteran, you deserve the best care and support possible for your sacrifices for our country. If you’re suffering from anxiety, seek help and apply for a VA rating to receive the benefits you deserve. Remember, seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength and courage.
NEED MORE ASSISTANCE?
Most veterans are underrated for their disabilities and, therefore, not getting their due compensation. At VA Claims Insider, we help you understand and take control of the claims process, so you can get the rating and compensation you’re owed by law.
Our process takes the guesswork out of filing a VA disability claim and supports you every step of the way in building a fully-developed claim (FDC)—so you can increase your rating FAST! If you’ve filed your VA disability claim and have been denied or have received a low rating—or you’re unsure how to get started—reach out to us! Take advantage of a FREE VA Claim Discovery Call. Learn what you’ve been missing—so you can FINALLY get the disability rating and compensation YOU DESERVE!
Trisha Penrod is a former active-duty Air Force officer. As an Intelligence Officer, she led teams of analysts to apply advanced analytic skills to identify, assess, and report potential threats to U.S. forces.
Trisha attended the U.S. Air Force Academy and holds an MBA from Webster University. After receiving an honorable discharge in 2018, Trisha worked as a growth marketer and utilizes her analytic skills to help others accomplish their business goals.