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August 26, 2019

How to Get a VA Rating for PTSD and Depression

Last updated on March 31, 2021

Veterans, in this post, I break down the VA Rating for PTSD and Depression.

VA claims for PTSD and Depression are rated on the same general scale according to CFR 38, Part 4, Schedule for Rating Disabilities, General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders.

In order to get a VA rating for PTSD and Depression, you need to have (1) A medical diagnosis of both conditions with a separate diagnosis for each, (2) A clear Nexus to prove service connection for PTSD and Depression, and (3) Current symptoms of the mental health conditions.

Generally, a veteran will get rated for only ONE mental health condition.

The reason why veterans will only have one mental health condition with a rating is due to a legal concept called “pyramiding.”

Thus, it’s unlikely for a veteran to have a VA rating for PTSD AND Depression, however, it is still possible as explained below.

Avoidance of Pyramiding in VA Disability Claims

The evaluation of the same disability under various diagnoses is to be avoided.

Disability from injuries to the muscles, nerves, and joints of an extremity may overlap to a great extent, so that special rules are included in the appropriate bodily system for their evaluation.

Both the use of manifestations not resulting from service-connected disease or injury in establishing the service-connected evaluation, and the evaluation of the same manifestation under different diagnoses are to be avoided.

Will the VA Rate More Than One Mental Health Condition?

Generally, no, because Depression is typically a symptom of PTSD.

However, a veteran is entitled to be rated for more than one mental health condition if and only if, it’s possible to differentiate symptoms attributable to each diagnosis.

For example, if a veteran has a medical diagnosis for PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder, perhaps it clearly delineates in medical records or in the notes of the C&P examiner, the symptoms that cause occupational and social impairment for each separate diagnosis.

Again, this is highly unlikely, and instead, the VA will choose to rate either PTSD or Depression, but not both.

Interested in the PTSD Rating Scale? Click HERE to read more.

VA Disability Rating Scale for Depression

0 Percent Mental Health Rating Criteria

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.

10 Percent Mental Health Rating Criteria

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 continuous medication.

30 Percent Mental Health Rating Criteria

Occupational and social impairment with occasional decrease in work efficiency and intermittent periods of inability to perform occupational tasks (although generally functioning satisfactorily, with routine behavior, self-care, and conversation normal), due to such symptoms as: depressed mood, anxiety, suspiciousness, panic attacks (weekly or less often), chronic sleep impairment, mild memory loss (such as forgetting names, directions, recent events).

50 Percent Mental Health Rating Criteria

Occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity due to such symptoms as: flattened affect; circumstantial, circumlocutory, or stereotyped speech; panic attacks more than once a week; difficulty in understanding complex commands; impairment of short- and long-term memory (e.g., retention of only highly learned material, forgetting to complete tasks); impaired judgment; impaired abstract thinking; disturbances of motivation and mood; difficulty in establishing and maintaining effective work and social relationships.

70 Percent Mental Health Rating Criteria

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, obscure, or irrelevant; near-continuous panic or depression affecting the ability to function independently, appropriately and effectively; impaired impulse control (such as unprovoked irritability with periods of violence); spatial disorientation; neglect of personal appearance and hygiene; difficulty in adapting to stressful circumstances (including work or a worklike setting); inability to establish and maintain effective relationships.

100 Percent VA Rating for Depression

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.

A common misconception from the veteran community is that you need to meet all the subjective symptoms tied with a certain Depression rating in order to get that rating.

This is not true!

The Rating Veteran Service Representative, also known as the RVSR, will consider all the evidence of record, and normally will assign the VA rating for PTSD and Depression that includes the “preponderance of the symptoms.”

For example, if a veteran has 4 of the symptoms from the 70 rating for Depression criteria and 6 of the symptoms from the 100 Depression VA rating criteria, the RVSR shall assign the higher rating, unless evidence of record contradicts this subjective assessment.

However, the opposite is also true.

For example, if a veteran has 6 of the symptoms from the 70 rating for Depression criteria and 4 of the symptoms from the 100 Depression VA rating criteria, the RVSR shall assign the lower rating, unless evidence of record contradicts this subjective assessment.

VA Depression Rating Information

According to 38 CFR §4.126, evaluation of disability from mental disorders, the RVSR is required to consider these two rules:

1. When evaluating a VA rating for PTSD and Depression, the rating agency shall consider the frequency, severity, and duration of psychiatric symptoms, the length of remissions, and the veteran’s capacity for adjustment during periods of remission.

The rating agency shall assign an evaluation based on all the evidence of record that bears on occupational and social impairment rather than solely on the examiner’s assessment of the level of disability now of the examination.

2. When evaluating the level of disability for PTSD and Depression, the rating agency will consider the extent of social impairment but shall not assign an evaluation solely based on social impairment.

How to File a VA Claim for PTSD and Depression

If you think you deserve a higher VA rating for PTSD and Depression, you may want to read How to File a Claim for PTSD by clicking HERE.

Do you need more medical evidence to prove VA Service Connection?

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About VA Claims Insider

VA Claims insider is an education-based coaching/consulting company. We’re here for disabled veterans exploring eligibility for increased VA disability benefits and who wish to learn more about that process. We also connect veterans with independent medical professionals in our referral network for medical examinations, disability evaluations, and credible independent medical opinions and nexus statements (medical nexus letters) for a wide range of disability conditions.

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