Updated: Mar 25
Following active duty, many veterans must deal with physical ailments and injuries. However, mental health concerns are equally prevalent.
Depression is a common mental health condition that many former and active service members deal with, just like PTSD. Like PTSD, depression is often difficult to diagnose.
While this is true, it can still have a life-long impact on a veteran’s daily life and well-being.
There is good news. Veterans experiencing depression may receive disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs if they can prove the condition is service-related. Keep reading to learn more.
How to Receive VA Compensation for Depression
You have three options to begin receiving disability compensation for cases of depression. These include:
Direct Service Connection
With this situation, a veteran’s depression can be linked to an event that occurred during their time in service. To receive benefits under this option, you must show:
· Depression diagnosis
· Description of the event resulting in the depression diagnosis
· Medical evidence or a nexus showing a connection between your diagnosis and the service incident
Secondary Service Connection
Disability benefits for depression are also possible if you can show a secondary service connection. With this, it means a different service-connected medical condition caused the depression. One example is a veteran with neck pain that keeps them from working, socializing, and enjoying normal activities. Limitations like these can cause depression. To acquire benefits for this connection, you must get a medical diagnosis and have a medical professional show the link between your condition and your time in service.
Depression Aggravated by Service
In some situations, veterans are diagnosed with depression before their service starts, and an event during their time in service resulted in their condition worsening or being aggravated. In this situation, making a service connection is possible.
The VA Rating System Used for Cases of Depression
After you have proven your diagnosis and the connection to your service, the VA is responsible for determining if you are eligible for benefits.
Cases of depression are classified under the category of “General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders.”
Depression is rated based on how much it impairs the veteran’s social and occupational ability. The more impairment present, the higher the rating will be.
The rating system used for mental disorders ranges from zero to 100%. If a 100% rating is given, it means the veteran cannot function at work or socially due to the condition. A zero percent rating is given if the individual has been diagnosed with depression, but their function isn’t impaired.
Understanding Your Diagnosis and Rights
If you have been diagnosed with depression and it is connected to your time in service in any way, you may be able to recover disability benefits. Get to know your options and work with the professionals to see if this is possible. Doing so will help you get the resources needed to overcome your diagnosis and continue living a healthy and full life.