For many former servicemembers nationwide, the physical injuries and limitations that result from active military duty make them eligible for disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). However, not all disability claims involve physical injury or illness, as they can also cover mental health issues like depression, for example.
While many former servicemembers across the country qualify for VA disability benefits due to mental health issues stemming from their time in on active duty, not every veteran’s depression claim is successful. If you are seeking to obtain disability compensation from the VA, you may need the assistance of an experienced attorney, especially if you have already received one or more denials.
Unlike a physical injury, it is not always easy to observe quantifiable evidence of depression in a former servicemember. The symptoms of depression vary dramatically from person to person, which necessitates careful evaluations from experienced professionals to diagnose this condition. The VA will assign a rating between 0 and 100 percent based on the veteran’s symptoms and occupational and social impairment.
To receive disability compensation through the VA, a veteran must establish a service connection to their depressive disorder. Depression can be related to military service in three different ways, known as direct, secondary, and aggravated connections.
A direct service connection requires proof of developing symptoms of depression during active duty. Unlike other mental disorders, the VA does not require a veteran to link their depression to a single in-service event. In many cases, it is enough to establish that a former servicemember did not suffer from depression when they entered the military but were later diagnosed with a depressive disorder before they were discharged.
A secondary service connection requires an applicant to prove that their symptoms of depression are the result of an injury or illness which is directly linked to their active duty military service. For example, a veteran who becomes depressed due to an amputation injury that took place during active duty could result in a potential disability rating for depression. A secondary connection claim may involve depression that occurs immediately after an injury or illness or which does not manifest until years later.
Aggravated service connection requires evidence that depression diagnosed prior to active duty was aggravated beyond natural progression by the former servicemember’s active duty military service. Aggravated service connection can also result from a disability which has already been linked to active duty and aggravates depression that developed after service, but not directly caused by active duty, beyond natural progression.
If you are facing the symptoms of depression after being discharged from active duty military service, you might be entitled to disability compensation through the VA. While tracing the origin of depression can be challenging, the right attorney could help you link your disability to your military service. To determine your rights and pursue the benefits you are entitled to, contact our legal team and ask about veterans’ depression claims.