If you acquired a psychiatric disorder during your time in America’s military, you could be entitled to disability benefits from the VA. However, it helps to understand how the VA rates acquired psychiatric disorders and how your disorder’s symptoms may impact your overall disability benefits.
Read on to learn more about acquired psychiatric disorder VA disability ratings and how to apply for Veterans benefits with experienced attorneys.
An acquired psychiatric disorder is any negative long-term psychological condition caused or aggravated by a life event, including an event you may have experienced in the military. As opposed to an inborn psychiatric disorder, you aren’t born with the condition in question.
For example, if you develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to your time in the military, it’s an acquired psychiatric disorder. You only acquired PTSD because you entered the military and did your duty.
In contrast, if you were born with bipolar disorder, that’s not an acquired psychiatric disorder. Joining the military did not have any effect on the condition.
The VA may provide disability benefits for acquired psychiatric disorders if you can prove that you acquired your disorder because of your time in the military.
Mental health disorders are recognized as in-service conditions by the Department of Veterans Affairs and can affect your quality of life, unemployability, and more.
Even if your disorder doesn’t appear on your initial medical records or active duty records, a later diagnosis (such as a diagnosis of PTSD) can still be eligible for disability compensation.
Acquired psychiatric disorders can vary heavily, and symptoms can manifest differently in each person. However, some common acquired psychiatric disorders include:
Many of these conditions affect your individual unemployability since they act as stressors in social or work situations. Claimants can claim each of these DSM-IV-recognized conditions to get an initial or higher rating from the VA.
The VA does award disability benefits for acquired psychiatric disorders, but only if you receive a service connection from the VA for the psychiatric disorder in question.
Just like all other disabilities and conditions, the VA requires you to prove that you acquired or aggravated the condition because of your military service. If it were, you would be eligible for disability benefits up to a certain limit, depending on the disability rating you receive.
The VA assigns disability ratings based on symptoms and how much a given condition or injury affects a Veteran’s life.
However, if you cannot prove that you acquired your condition because of your military service, you will not receive VA disability benefits. Furthermore, you won’t receive disability benefits if you were dishonorably discharged, no matter the circumstances that led to your psychiatric disorder.
Establishing a service connection to your acquired psychiatric disorder involves:
If the VA receives all this information, it may award you a service connection and make you eligible for VA disability benefits for your mental health condition and other related medical conditions or illnesses.
To determine your disability rating and how much you receive each month and benefits, the VA looks at scores from the Global Assessment of Functioning Scale tool (GAF). The GAF helps to determine your overall functionality or how severe your disability is.
In broad terms, the GAF measures how well you can function at work and the level of social and emotional impairment you experience. It ranges from 0 to 100.
The higher your score on the GAF, the better your ability to function is, and vice versa for low scores. If you have a lower score, you may receive a higher disability rating from the VA. The GAF score is used with your Compensation and Pension exam.
While the VA does provide benefits to the majority of acquired psychiatric conditions, it does not consider certain psychiatric conditions to be related to your military service at all. That’s due to the nature of those disorders.
The below disorders are not eligible for VA disability benefits:
The VA rates psychiatric disorders using its Schedule of Ratings, assigning them Diagnostic Codes 9201 to 9440. Here are some examples of psychiatric disorder diagnostic codes:
If you receive a service connection for one or more psychiatric disorders, you will receive a disability rating from 0% to 100% based on its symptoms and severity. Here’s a breakdown of how the VA rates acquired psychiatric disorders:
Note that while a 100% rating will result in the maximum disability benefit award, getting any rating from the VA is important if you want to maximize your benefits overall.
Even a 0% rating is important. For example, suppose your mental illness causes worse symptoms in the future. In that case, you’ll have an easier time increasing your rating if the VA already has a diagnosis of the condition in question.
The best way to maximize your VA disability benefits for an acquired psychiatric disorder is to work with knowledgeable attorneys. The right attorneys can help you gather additional evidence to strengthen your disability claim and increase your entitlement to benefits, like:
Furthermore, the right attorneys can help you appeal an initial decision if you were denied disability benefits based on your acquired psychiatric disorder’s symptoms.
Acquired psychiatric disorders can be just as debilitating and disabling as physical conditions or injuries. If you develop or aggravate a psychiatric disorder because of your service in the military, you should receive compensation from the VA.
Berry Law can help you get that compensation and more. Our knowledgeable attorneys can help you file an initial claim for VA disability benefits and help you understand the claims process.
If you’ve already filed a claim, our lawyers can help you appeal the VA’s decision and get the compensation you deserve. Contact our law firm today to learn more.
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