Are you or your loved ones facing trouble adjusting to significant life events or grieving the loss of close friends or family members? It could be a case of adjustment disorder.
It is one of the most commonly observed and diagnosed among veterans. Around 30.8% of active duty members in the US were affected by adjustment disorder from 2016 to 2020.
The statistics are similar for armed forces in the UK. Adjustment disorder is also widely recorded in most soldiers serving the UK military, along with depression.
So, considering its common prevalence, it is important to understand if veterans are eligible for VA ratings and benefits. Yes, they are!
This article will cover everything veterans should know about receiving the right VA ratings.
It will help them live a happy, stress-free life. After sacrificing years to provide selfless military/combat service to their country, this is the least they are entitled to.
Adjustment Disorder in Veterans
This section covers how adjustment disorder manifests in veterans.
Military veterans have seen and experienced the worst in one of the most raw and brutal forms that may be hard to forget.
Most veterans are emotionally scarred after witnessing the following:
- Deaths of hundreds of innocent children and mothers
- Brutality and assault on other civilians
- Injury to or demise of fellow soldiers on active duty
- Frequent transfers to different locations.
Multiple such instances of heavy violence across war-torn areas can take a massive toll on veterans’ mental health.
Generally, most veterans develop chronic PTSD in response to such traumatic incidents. But some of them who are not as severely affected, may struggle with adjustment disorder and exhibit the following symptoms:
- Constant panic and stress that is more than usual
- Mild to moderate hurdles in daily functioning
- Severe impairment in performing the daily duties for a short time as adjustment disorder is usually not chronic
- Compromised social interaction
- Extreme emotional and behavioral disturbances
- Insomnia and excessive nervousness
- Constant feelings of depression and hopelessness
- Difficulty concentrating on tasks
- Complete withdrawal from hobbies, fun interests, etc.
- Reckless actions and more
Varying intensities of the above symptoms are a possibility. So, their confirmed identification with enough diagnostic evidence is compulsory. It will form the basis for Veteran Affairs to determine your final VA rating.
VA Ratings for Adjustment Disorder Among Veterans
This section explores the mandatory conditions to be satisfied for receiving VA ratings.
Adjustment disorder is usually not a chronic or serious mental condition. The symptoms are generally temporary.
However, this might not be true for veterans in the military affected by years and years of violence and trauma. And the high rate of prevalence of adjustment disorder in veterans, discussed earlier in the article, is a clear testimony to that.
If you are a veteran suffering from adjustment disorder, you can be assigned ratings in the range of 0 percent to 100 percent. It will depend on:
- Your final diagnosis results
- The severity plus duration of the symptoms
- The existence of any other comorbidities such as PTSD, anxiety, or clinical depression.
Mental disabilities impact differently in different people. You may have more serious combat service-connected mental health issues in addition to adjustment disorder. And there could be a considerable amount of overlap in symptoms.
Therefore, you may not be eligible for VA ratings if you are already diagnosed with some other severe mental illness or condition.
Veteran Affairs is particularly careful about separating service-related symptoms from non-service-related symptoms. It is to avoid evaluating the same impairments under different labels.
You will only receive benefits based on the symptoms identified as a negative impact of military experiences.
Requirements for Service-Connected VA Benefits for Adjustment Disorder
Let us explore the requirements for achieving VA benefits based on your military service and past records.
As mentioned earlier, to be eligible for adjustment disorder VA ratings:
- You must prove that you have persistent signs that fairly affect your daily routine, including your ability to socialize and work
- You must have a confirmed medical record to establish the diagnosis of your adjustment disorder
- You must provide enough proof to establish that your adjustment disorder was primarily caused during combat or worsened by traumatic events experienced during active military duty.
That makes it crucial for you to collect appropriate medical evidence. It should demonstrate an apt diagnosis of the condition during military operations or within a year of release.
Your medical history obtained either via private diagnosis by an expert mental healthcare provider or the VA military personnel medical records will play a key role here. These will help assess your symptoms’ severity and assign the appropriate VA rating.
Categories of VA Ratings for Adjustment Disorder
In this section, I will talk about the different types of VA ratings you can possibly be eligible for, according to the US Veterans Affairs Department.
0% VA Rating
A 0% rating confirms the complete diagnosis of adjustment disorder. However, it means that the symptoms are extremely negligible or mild. They do not induce any impairments disrupting social interaction in personal or professional lives.
10% VA Rating
In order to be eligible for a 10% VA rating, your adjustment disorder must be adequately diagnosed. The evidence must indicate mild to moderate signs or symptoms. These may require appropriate medical/psychiatric intervention. Because they tend to affect your productivity at work or in academics.
30% VA Rating
A 30% VA rating is generally not a cause for concern as the severity of key symptoms may still be in the mild to moderate range. However, you may be more susceptible to panic attacks, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. It may, in turn, reduce your efficiency and may also trigger a sense of being overwhelmed in handling stressful situations.
50% VA Rating
To be eligible for a 50% VA rating for adjustment disorder, Veteran Affairs will look for confirmation of symptoms such as extreme difficulty in focusing on work or studies, trouble following basic instructions, being absent-minded, and frequent panic attacks.
You may also experience trouble making crucial decisions, maintaining long-term relationships on personal and professional fronts, and remembering things.
70% VA Rating
If you suffer from symptoms that are more severe than a 50% VA rating, you may be eligible to receive a 70% VA rating for adjustment disorder.
There are a few more additional signs for aiding correct diagnosis. The obsession with ritualistic practices may often get in the way of daily functioning. Serious speech inconsistencies, intense mood swings, and constant irritability without any triggers are also considered.
A higher severity of the above problems means more daily trouble at work and school.
100% VA Rating
Your diagnosis of adjustment disorder must prove the existence of recurring and very severe symptoms to qualify for a 100% VA rating.
It includes remaining absent from work or school and having uncontrollable suicidal tendencies. You may also face trouble in speaking or thought processing. Another symptom is extreme withdrawal from daily life due to a gross inability to perform regular routine tasks.
Memory loss may be more intense in this case. You may even exhibit delusional or psychotic behavior due to frequent fear-induced hallucinations.
It is much more serious if your symptoms represent a grave danger of violence to others or yourself. It may cause complete impairment to go about your everyday life normally. So, Veteran Affairs will assign you a 100% VA rating for adjustment disorder. It is a rarity but still quite a possibility.
Sometimes, even with a VA rating of less than 100%, you may still be eligible for VA disability benefits. The compensation would be the same as a 100% rating.
It’s possible when you get a rating of total and permanent disability for your inability to sustain your employment. It’s called TDIU or Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability.
I hope this article helped you get a good understanding of VA ratings for adjustment disorder.
Reach out to a dedicated attorney who specializes in assisting you to get the VA rating and the compensation you deserve.
She is an experienced Clinical Psychologist and Mental Health Writer with a decade of expertise in psychology. Skilled in assessment, therapy, and patient care. Committed to helping individuals through clinical practice and mental health writing at Therapyjourney.co. Passionate about promoting mental well-being and awareness. Open to aligned opportunities.