VA Claim for Depression – How Do I File My Claim?
“No. None. Never.” Sound familiar? Your unit wanted you to stay cleared for duty, and those three answers will get you past a mental health screening. This is normal on active duty, but this approach to your mental health is shortsighted. Today we are talking about mental health issues, and how you can file a VA claim for depression.
I get it. Any troop willing to admit they are struggling mentally knows their career is at risk. As a result, we deny everything. However, that doesn’t mean mental health is something you can afford to ignore. Symptoms of depression include fatigue, irritability, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, and extreme emotional swings. Consequently, it will have a significant impact on your life.
First Step in My Depression Claim – Active Duty/Reserves
If you are still on active duty- a visit to an on-base chaplain is your starting place. You need confidential help, and the chaplain is perfect. Regulation prevents chaplains from sharing any information with your leadership, and they typically have some level of counseling experience. In addition, you need to decide if you are willing to approach mental health to seek formal treatment.
First Step in My Depression Claim – Veteran/Retired
What if you are already out? A visit to mental health at the VA (or base hospital) is your starting point. Our Combat Craig team wants you rated and receiving the disability you earned, but we also want you getting the care you need. Thankfully, a trip to mental health will accomplish both.
Three Keys To Filing A VA Claim For Depression
In total, your VA claim for depression will need three parts:
1) A current disability diagnosis
2) Proof that the disability occurred on active duty (service-connection)
3) “Nexus” (Proof that the current disability is continuation of the active-duty injury)
Current Diagnosis For Depression
You know you have depression. As a result, you are preparing your case to fight the VA. However, it is imperative that a doctor diagnose you. The rater can diagnose you at your C&P exam (Compensation and Pension). However, I would not rely on them. Therefore, you should ensure you have a depression diagnosis before you file your VA claim for depression.
Service Connect Your VA Claim For Depression – Statements
In a perfect world, you will have proof in your active duty medical records of being treated for depression. However, that may not be possible. You have a couple of options. Using “buddy letters” can be useful to establish that your symptoms started on active duty. These are statements written by friends, family, and coworkers. Firstly, they can attest to a negative change in your mental health during and after active duty. Secondly, they can describe how depression has affected your life.
In addition, you need to attach a personal statement when you file a VA claim for depression. It is important that you clearly and honestly advise the examiner how your depression has affected you. The VA will base your rating for depression on how it affects you socially and in your occupation. As a result, your job is to illustrate the impact of depression in these areas. You also need to illustrate that your symptoms started on active duty. Remember, the rater needs to know your symptoms to properly rate your VA mental health claim. You need to tell them.
Nexus For Depression
Nexus is the last piece of the puzzle. This means proving your current depression originated on active duty. In a perfect world, you would have medical evidence showing that your depression started on active duty and continued to this day. In addition, proof of continuous mental health care makes this claim much easier to prove. If not, no problem. That is pretty normal. As a result, you need to get a medical opinion that your current diagnosis originated on active duty.
How Do I File A VA Claim for Depression After I Get Out?
Depression is a high value claim, and the VA rates it as high as 100%. However, what if your depression didn’t start on active duty? What if your other disabilities aggravate your depression? Is it still possible to be rated for depression? Absolutely. You can use secondary conditions to accomplish this.
Chronic pain, back pain, neck pain , GERD, cancer, etc. are all well-known ways that depression is increased. They have a significant negative impact on your life, and cause your inability to take part in many things. As a result, they absolutely can cause depression. Firstly, you need to illustrate your service-connected disability is aggravating your post-service depression.
Secondly, you need to file a claim for depression secondary to the disability that is aggravating the depression. Thankfully, the requirements to be rated for depression secondary to another claim are much easier. In short, you only need to illustrate that the current disability aggravated the depression. You do not need that depression to have started on active duty.
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My VA Claim For Mental Health ?
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