The mental trauma that military service may leave behind can be just as damaging to your personal and professional life as physical injuries and illnesses, if not more so in some situations. Fortunately, former servicemembers with mental health problems stemming directly from experiences they had while serving on active duty are often eligible to receive disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Veterans mental health claims in Charleston often work very differently from VA disability claims based on other types of injuries, and applicants without legal representation tend to have slim chances of achieving successful case results. By retaining a skilled VA disability lawyer to help with your claim, you could have a much better chance of getting the compensation you need without running into any procedural or bureaucratic roadblocks along the way.
Various mental illnesses can qualify a former servicemember for benefits from the VA, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. It is also possible to obtain VA disability benefits based on the combined effect that more than one service-related mental illness has on a veteran’s life, although a single symptom cannot be considered under more than one diagnostic code for the purposes of rating an applicant’s level of impairment.
Furthermore, conditions caused by substance abuse disorders resulting from an in-service mental disability may also qualify a veteran for disability. For example, if a veteran suffers a liver disorder after taking up drinking to cope with his or her service-connected depression, that condition could be factored into their overall disability rating.
For veterans filing disability claims in Charleston based on mental health disorders, the VA generally assigns disability ratings of zero, 10, 30, 50, 70, or 100 percent according to an applicant’s level of impairment. A veteran does not need to meet every single qualifying criteria to be given a certain rating, nor does a symptom of a mental health condition need to perfectly match the guidelines to support a particular rating.
100 percent mental health ratings are reserved for veterans who suffer “total occupational and social impairment” as a result of their service-connected conditions, which is characterized by extreme symptoms such as persistent hallucinations or delusions and persistent danger of causing harm to one’s self or others. Importantly, a 100 percent mental health rating is not necessarily a prerequisite for a 100 percent overall disability rating—for instance, a 70 percent rating for a mental health condition could refer to an illness severe enough to make an applicant unable to hold gainful employment of any kind.
It is also worth noting that a zero percent mental health rating does not necessarily mean a veteran is ineligible for VA disability benefits. If the condition in question worsens substantially later in the veteran’s life, having a recorded acknowledgement from the VA that his or her condition was originally service-related could significantly streamline an ensuing VA benefits application.
Collecting and effectively presenting evidence in a VA disability claim of how your service-connected condition impacts your post-service life can be a challenging and complex process no matter what the nature of your disability is. However, achieving a successful outcome from a VA disability benefits claim based on a mental illness can be especially difficult without support from knowledgeable legal counsel.
A qualified VA disability lawyer’s representation may prove vital to effectively establishing your eligibility throughout a veteran’s mental health claim in Charleston. Schedule a private consultation by calling today.