Everyone is at least somewhat familiar with feeling anxious. A racing heartbeat, sweaty palms, thoughts of worst-case scenarios spinning around in your mind – these are all universally human sensations. But severe anxiety is a different matter entirely. For many people, including thousands of Veterans, anxiety can be crippling, having a massive impact on daily life.
Many Veterans suffer from severe anxiety due to living through intense experiences in combat and then re-entering civilian life. Military service can make a Veteran constantly feel on edge long after they have returned from combat. Even as a civilian, a Veteran may still experience the feeling of terror that so many soldiers are familiar with.
Combat experiences aren’t the only source of severe anxiety for Veterans, either. A variety of different circumstances in the military can lead to anxiety later in life, including sexual assault or abuse. Sexual trauma can leave someone perpetually feeling like something is wrong, even when there is seemingly nothing to make this anxiety set in.
Veterans with anxiety cannot always pinpoint a specific experience or event that acted as the catalyst for their struggle. Sometimes, the overall stress of military service is enough to leave someone with severe, lingering anxiety that does not go away.
Veterans who struggle with severe anxiety may find the simplest tasks nearly impossible, especially on the days when they feel especially overwhelmed. Seemingly small stressors can be triggering in some cases, especially for Veterans who are suffering from anxiety related to trauma.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition common in Veterans, is often accompanied by severe anxiety and hypervigilance. When a Veteran has had an extremely traumatic experience, they may start showing symptoms of PTSD, including anxiety. The anxious feelings that come with PTSD are often so intense that going to work or even getting out of bed is out of the question on some days.
When a Veteran’s anxiety is so severe that they struggle to work, socialize, and live a healthy and fulfilling life, there is a strong possibility of receiving monthly benefits from the department of Veterans affairs (VA). The VA recognizes service-related anxiety – anxiety directly linked to a Veteran’s time in the military – as a legitimate disability that can make a Veteran eligible to receive monthly tax-free compensation.
For a Veteran suffering from extreme anxiety, monthly support from the VA can be life-changing. Anxiety can make it hard for many Veterans to work, especially when a work environment has the potential to be triggering. When a Veteran is suffering from anxiety related to trauma, even the smallest reminder of a traumatic experience can bring on overwhelming and intense anxiety. When a workplace is triggering for a Veteran with anxiety, monthly compensation may be the only way for them to get the support they need for themself and their loved ones.
The VA offers disability benefits to disabled Veterans based on a scale from 0 to 100. A 10% disability rating is given to Veterans who are negatively affected by service-related disabilities but are not impacted as severely as others. A Veteran with a 10% rating will receive the lowest possible monthly benefits from the VA – any lower than 10% will mean that the VA will not provide compensation for the condition. However, it can still be valuable to get a 0% rating, even though it is not accompanied by monthly payments.
A Veteran can receive benefits from the VA based on more than one service-related disability. For example, if a Veteran is suffering from service-related anxiety and PTSD, along with a back injury, this Veteran will likely receive a higher rating than a Veteran who is only suffering from anxiety alone.
The VA typically gives a 100% disability rating only to disabled Veterans who suffer from conditions that make it impossible to function in some way. This can mean the ability to work, socialize, or care for themselves is inhibited. The 100% disability rating is often given to Veterans with multiple service-related disabilities, not just one.
If you are a Veteran dealing with severe anxiety, you deserve to receive compensation from the VA. However, it’s crucial to know how to file a claim to receive benefits in the best possible way. The VA needs specific details about your symptoms, condition, and military history to approve your application. You’ll also need to be diagnosed with anxiety by a mental health professional.
When you start filing a claim to receive benefits for service-related anxiety, be prepared to dispute the VA’s decision regarding your application if necessary. The VA often does not accurately assess mental health issues like anxiety and may give you a lower rating than you deserve or deny your application altogether. If you end up in either of these scenarios, you can contest the VA’s decision on your case by appealing with the help of an attorney.
If you submit an application to receive benefits for anxiety and your claim gets denied, don’t give up. As you can imagine, the VA sometimes denies claims for a few common reasons – lack of sufficient medical evidence, failure to take necessary exams or lack of sufficient connection between a Veteran’s disability and their military service.
When the VA denies a claim for any of these reasons, you can request to have your case reexamined through a process called a decision review. During this process, you may present additional evidence to support your claim. If you did not take an exam that the VA requested you take, the decision review process might include getting tested by the VA to get further details about your condition. A decision review can also involve getting a senior official at the VA to look at your claim, which can potentially lead to a better outcome.
If the VA does not grant you benefits, you can also get a second opinion from a private doctor and present a statement from them to the VA. Taking this route is called getting an independent medical examination (IME) and involves having a doctor look carefully at your military medical records and assess your current symptoms. The doctor can then help support your claim by making a statement that you can present to the VA.
In addition to getting an IME, you can also present testimonials from trusted friends, family members, and those who served with you in the military to help support your claim. These “buddy statements” can play a key role in the decision review process, often helping to show the VA that you have eyewitnesses who have seen the connection between your anxiety and your military service.
If the VA continues to deny your claim after you have undergone a decision review, you can continue to dispute their decision by making an appeal. It’s worth it not to give up on getting the rating that you deserve!
When the VA gives you a rating that is lower than you deserve, making an appeal with the support of a seasoned attorney is often the best way to get a better outcome. An attorney who knows how the VA works and how they determine rulings can make a large difference in the rating that you end up with.
The VA’s disability benefits program exists to support Veterans who deserve compensation for their service-related conditions, both physical and psychological. If you are suffering from anxiety, the VA is not your enemy, but they may not give you the rating you deserve initially. One of Berry Law’s attorneys can team up with you to make an appeal that can be the game-changer you need to get the benefits you are entitled to.
Our team is made of Veterans who want to give fellow Veterans all the help and support they need navigating the VA appeals process. We can help you make an appeal at any level – at your regional VA office, at the Court of Veterans’ Appeals, or at a higher court. We’re here to support you in whatever way we can, and we’ll fight with you to get the rating that you deserve from the VA. With a Berry Law attorney on your team, you’ve got help that you can count on. Contact Berry Law today for a free case evaluation.
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