If you’re a veteran experiencing anxiety related to your military service, you could be eligible for VA disability compensation. An anxiety VA rating ranging from 10% to 100% is available to those who qualify.
It’s important to note that anxiety is a prevalent mental illness amongst veterans, with the VA estimating that 43% of those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan have at least one mental illness. However, fewer than 25% of these veterans seek support and benefits.
Anxiety can have a profound impact on your daily life, affecting your ability to work, socialize, and carry out everyday tasks. It can also lead to other issues such as depression, substance abuse, and even suicide.
To manage anxiety, the VA offers various mental health services, including therapy and medication. Seeking help can improve your overall well-being, and an anxiety VA rating can provide additional benefits to improve your quality of life.
In this blog, we discuss how to get the anxiety VA rating you deserve, and how anxiety impacts veterans. Take the first step towards getting the benefits you deserve by seeking help from our team at VDC.
WHAT IS ANXIETY?
Anxiety is a natural response to stress or danger. It’s a feeling of fear, unease, and worry that can be mild or severe. For veterans, anxiety may be related to their military service and can be triggered by memories of traumatic events or experiences. It’s important to seek help if you’re experiencing anxiety as it can have a significant impact on your daily life. There are various treatment options available, including therapy and medication, that can help manage symptoms and improve overall well-being.
SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY
- Constant worry or feeling on edge: Feeling like something bad may happen or always being on guard, even in safe situations.
- Racing thoughts or inability to concentrate: Difficulty focusing on tasks or racing thoughts that distract from daily activities.
- Physical symptoms such as muscle tension, headaches, and stomach issues: Body aches, tension, headaches, stomach issues, and other physical symptoms without a clear medical cause.
- Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep: Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing nightmares.
- Panic attacks, which may involve a rapid heart rate, sweating, trembling, and shortness of breath: Suddenly feeling intense fear or discomfort, which can cause physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating, and difficulty breathing.
- Avoidance of certain situations or activities due to fear or anxiety: Avoiding situations or places that cause anxiety or fear, which may limit daily activities.
- Irritability or agitation: Feeling easily frustrated or becoming angry over minor issues.
- Social anxiety or difficulty with social interactions: Feeling nervous or uncomfortable in social situations or avoiding social interactions altogether.
- Feeling overwhelmed or out of control: Feeling like life is unmanageable or out of control.
- Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol to cope with anxiety: Using drugs or alcohol to cope with anxiety symptoms.
GET AN ANXIETY VA RATING WITH THE FOLLOWING
➀ Have a medical diagnosis of anxiety.
② Establish a link or medical nexus that your anxiety was caused or made worse by your military service.
③Demonstrate current and ongoing symptoms of anxiety.
TYPES OF ANXIETY THAT ARE RECOGNIZED BY THE VA:
|Type of Anxiety
|VA Diagnostic Code
|Generalized Anxiety Disorder
|Severe and uncontrollable worry about everyday things, which can be irrational.
|A severe fear of specific things or situations, which can range from spiders to public places, and can lead to panic attacks or violence
|Anxiety that causes repetitive actions, such as excessive hand-washing or repeating specific numbers, which can interfere with daily tasks and work.
|Other Specified Anxiety Disorder
|Covers all other specific anxiety disorders that are not mentioned elsewhere.
|Panic Disorder or Agoraphobia
|Panic disorder is a condition where severe panic attacks occur in stressful or fearful situations, and agoraphobia is the fear of public places that can also cause panic attacks.
|Unspecified Anxiety Disorder
|Covers all other unspecified anxiety disorders that do not have a specific name.
It’s important to note that while PTSD is often associated with anxiety, it has its own diagnostic code and rating criteria. Additionally, even if you experience both anxiety and PTSD, you will only receive one rating for mental health conditions. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek help and speak with a mental health professional to get a proper diagnosis.
ESTABLISHING A SERVICE CONNECTION FOR ANXIETY IN VA DISABILITY CLAIMS
Establishing a service connection is crucial when claiming VA disability benefits for anxiety. This means linking your current medical condition to your military service. You can demonstrate this connection by providing medical service treatment records that show an in-service diagnosis of anxiety. A medical nexus can also help prove the link between your anxiety and military service.
Unfortunately, mental health stigmas may have prevented some veterans from seeking medical help during service. In such cases, you can use service records such as counseling records or performance reports to show that you were experiencing anxiety symptoms during your service, even if you were not officially diagnosed.
VA RATING ANXIETY
At present, the VA rates anxiety based on the severity of symptoms, with disability ratings ranging from 0% to 100%. The average rating for anxiety among veterans is 70%.
To provide a more comprehensive evaluation of how anxiety affects veterans in their daily lives, the VA has introduced a new system called the Five Domains of Functional Impairment. This system assesses five domains in which anxiety may impact a veteran’s ability to function:
１. Understanding and communicating – This domain examines memory, focus, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.
２. Moving around and getting around – This domain assesses the ability to leave home, navigate crowded spaces, and use transportation.
３. Interacting with people and participating in society – This domain looks at how anxiety affects personal and professional relationships.
４. Task completion and life activities – This domain assesses the ability to work, attend school, perform household chores, and care for others.
５. Self-care – This domain examines the ability to groom, dress, and eat properly.
The VA uses a General Rating Formula to evaluate the intensity of anxiety symptoms across these five domains. The intensity refers to the level of difficulty a veteran faces in completing tasks and participating in life activities due to anxiety.
THE VA EVALUATES THE FOLLOWING LEVELS TO DETERMINE THE INTENSITY OF ANXIETY
- None – No difficulties are associated with the domain.
- Mild – Some slight difficulties in one or more aspects of the domain that do not interfere with tasks, activities, or relationships.
- Moderate – Clinically significant difficulties in one or more aspects of the domain that interfere with tasks, activities, or relationships.
- Severe – Serious difficulties in one or more aspects of the domain that interfere with tasks, activities, or relationships.
- Total – Profound difficulties in one or more aspects of the domain that cannot be managed or remediated, resulting in complete interference with tasks, activities, or relationships.
The VA assigns a score to each domain, based on the frequency and intensity of the impairment, with scores ranging from 0 to 4. A score of 4 in one or more domains can lead to a 100% VA disability rating for anxiety.
VA RATING LEVELS FOR ANXIETY
0% ANXIETY FUNCTIONAL IMPAIRMENT RATING
If you have been diagnosed with anxiety, but it does not interfere with your ability to work, interact with others or perform daily tasks, you will receive a 0% Anxiety Functional Impairment Rating.
10% ANXIETY FUNCTIONAL IMPAIRMENT RATING
At the 10% level, you may have some mild symptoms, but they do not significantly impact your ability to work or interact with others. You may require medication to manage your symptoms.
30% ANXIETY FUNCTIONAL IMPAIRMENT RATING:
Moderate symptoms that interfere with daily tasks and functioning independently. Symptoms include difficulty with memory, focus, problem-solving, decision-making, leaving home, being in crowded spaces, connecting with others, work, school, household chores, and taking care of yourself.
50% ANXIETY FUNCTIONAL IMPAIRMENT RATING:
Moderately severe anxiety that significantly interferes with most areas of life. Symptoms include moderate difficulty with memory, focus, problem-solving, decision-making, leaving home, being in crowded spaces, connecting with others, work, school, household chores, and taking care of yourself. Panic attacks occur more than once a week.
70% ANXIETY FUNCTIONAL IMPAIRMENT RATING:
Severe anxiety that significantly impacts most areas of life. Symptoms include suicidal ideations, severe difficulty with memory, focus, problem-solving, decision-making, leaving home, being in crowded spaces, connecting with others, work, school, household chores, and taking care of yourself. Impaired impulse control and difficulty adapting to stressful situations may occur.
100% ANXIETY FUNCTIONAL IMPAIRMENT RATING:
Completely disabling anxiety that prevents functioning in most areas of life. Symptoms include impaired thought processes and communication, hallucinations or delusions, inappropriate behavior, and danger of hurting yourself or others.