Let’s talk about the steps to your Depression Claim. According to Mayo Clinic, “depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.” Many of the symptoms for this include feeling like life is no longer worth living, having difficulty participating in daily tasks, and can affect the ways you think and act.
After being diagnosed with depression, the first question you need to ask yourself is if your depression was this something that was caused by service or made worse by it. Once you have distinguished the source, then we can work on what type of claim you qualify for.
Types of depression claims
Aggravated service connection
In this case, the Veteran had depression before their time in service. Due to the nature of the job, this caused their depression to worsen.
Depression is mild, primarily characterized by irritable moods. This is occurring two years or more and having depressive episodes just about every day. Dysthymic disorder prevents normal activities, causes low self-esteem, difficulty with decision making, and feelings of hopelessness.
Major depressive disorder
Having major depressive disorder is one of the two options your claim can fall under. In order to qualify, you must have two episodes of depression occurring every two weeks. This can be managed with medications and therapy. Another aspect of depression can include anxiety, PTSD, and bipolar disorder.
- Feelings of sadness, or hopelessness
- Outbursts, and frequent irritability
- Loss of interest in normal activities
- Sleep disturbances, insomnia or sleeping too much
- Tiredness with lack of energy
- Reduced appetite with weight loss
- Increased cravings and weight gain
- Anxiety, restlessness, agitation
- Slowed thinking and movements
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or fixating on past failures
- Trouble thinking, making decisions, concentrating
- Frequent thoughts of death or suicide attempts
- Unexplained physical problems
While this is not an all-inclusive list, if you experience some of these symptoms, speak to your doctor. Many times those who suffer from depression have difficulty with daily activities and are unhappy when with other people.
Information retrieved from Mayo Clinic
The VA has done research on depression and treatments for it which you can find here.
In order to receive compensation from the VA, there must be a couple of things in place. First a Nexus connection. This just means that there needs to be a link between your depression and service. This can be through medical records, buddy letters, and any other evidence you can gather. Our team can help you with this part since many times it is the most difficult.
The most vital aspect that you include is evidence from a doctor. You must have a depression diagnosis to qualify. These medical records help you prove your condition to the VA. If you have not gone to see a doctor to receive treatment and advice, that is your first step!
How does the VA rate depression?
The VA awards ratings on how drastically your condition affects your daily life. Depression is under the rating for mental disorders. A 0 percent rating would mean that there is no service connection and depression does not affect you. The ratings go up by 10 percent, with a 100 percent rating meaning you are completely disabled. Depression can be paired with other claims, and these can be added up for your given rating.
If you are interested in the general rating for mental disorders that can be found on the VA’s website, here.
The biggest thing that your C&P examiner is looking for is how much has your social ability been effected. By showing them this, without overly exaggerating, you should be able to receive the rating you deserve.
Secondary service connection
Depression could be a result of another injury or something else that happened during service. By connecting the two you have a better chance of increasing your rating.
Many Veterans have an injury such as shoulder pain which has been causing problems for years. This severely affects their social life and has forced them to quit their job or get fired. Due to this physical injury, depression is known as a secondary they can claim for it.
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About the Author
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 & Nexus Statements (Medical Nexus Letters) for a wide range of disability conditions.