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Veterans Disability for Adjustment Disorder

Legally reviewed by Brendan Garcia , Owner and Lead Attorney

With so many U.S. veterans struggling with adjustment disorder, the VA has recognized this condition and established benefits for the VA disability adjustment disorder. Unfortunately, numerous challenges stand in the way of securing these benefits. Whether you are struggling to increase your adjustment disorder VA rating or if you were unfairly denied benefits, our team of knowledgeable attorneys can help. At VetLaw, we leverage our vast experience with the VA process to provide veterans with the guidance and legal counsel necessary to obtain benefits. To learn more about how we can help, consider connecting with us today.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Adjustment Disorder?

Individuals with adjustment disorder struggle with emotional or behavioral reactions to traumatic events or major life changes. What sets these emotional and behavioral reactions apart is that they are excessive or extreme, and much more intense than would normally be expected. Adjustment disorder can be caused by a variety of different stressors, including a change in job, divorce or separation, financial issues, and combat exposure, to name a few.

There is a diverse range of signs and symptoms of adjustment disorder, and this condition can manifest differently in every person. Some of the most common symptoms of adjustment disorder may include:

  • Inability to sleep
  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Depressed mood
  • Nervousness or worry
  • Difficulty with concentration and memory
  • Withdrawing from social relationships
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and everyday activities
  • Crying often
  • Reckless behavior
  • Heart palpitations
  • Drug or alcohol abuse

Symptoms of adjustment disorder begin within three months of the traumatic incident and can last a few months or longer, including indefinitely, depending on the nature of the stressor. If the stressor is ongoing, such as work stress or struggling with another related health condition, adjustment disorder can persist and worsen. Moreover, veterans commonly experience symptoms of adjustment disorder due to their military experience.

How Does Military Experience Influence Symptoms of Adjustment Disorder?

Veterans are at a higher risk for adjustment disorder due to their time in the military. In fact, with a prevalence of 25% to 38%, adjustment disorder is the most common psychiatric diagnosis in the armed forces. Veterans are regularly exposed to major stressors during their service, including threats to their safety, sexual assault, exposure to human suffering, family separation, and strict living conditions. Traumatic incidents not only happen during combat but can occur due to the disciplined environment that veterans are required to live in, resulting in the inability to make choices or discuss emotional distress. For these reasons, many veterans seek VA disability for adjustment disorder to help regain control of their lives and offset the negative effects of this condition on their work and daily lives.

Does the VA Consider Adjustment Disorder to Be a Disability?

Yes, the VA does consider adjustment disorder to be a disability. Adjustment disorder is specifically listed in the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities, meaning it is possible to apply for and obtain disability benefits for this condition. To successfully secure VA disability for adjustment disorder, you must prove that you have a valid medical diagnosis for adjustment disorder and that your condition was caused by an in-service event or incident.

This connection is critical, as the VA will only provide disability benefits to those who can substantiate that their adjustment disorder is directly linked to their military service. Once this connection has been established, you will be assigned an adjustment disorder VA rating that will be used to determine your compensation amount.

What Is the VA Rating for Adjustment Disorder?

The VA will assign a rating for adjustment disorder based on 38 CFR § 4.130, the General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders. Under the standards outlined in this Diagnostic Code, you will be assigned an adjustment disorder VA rating between 0% and 100%. Your rating will depend on the nature of your condition and the severity of your symptoms:

  • 0% for a diagnosed condition with symptoms that do not interfere with your ability to work or engage in social activities.
  • 10% for those who display mild symptoms that lead to work/social impairment during periods of high stress and can be controlled with medication.
  • 30% for individuals who struggle with occasional work/social impairment, decreased work productivity, and symptoms like panic attacks, depression, anxiety, or memory loss.
  • 50% for veterans who experience regular work/social impairment and who struggle with symptoms like weekly panic attacks, difficulty understanding complex commands, impaired judgment, and serious memory issues.
  • 70% for individuals who suffer from impairment in most areas of their lives, including school, work, relationships, and judgment. Individuals with this rating experience suicidal ideation, obsessive behaviors, illogical speech, and persistent panic or depression.
  • 100% for those who are totally disabled due to their adjustment disorder. This means that they are totally unable to function in work and social settings and suffer from severe symptoms like delusions, disorientation, danger to oneself or others, memory loss, and inability to perform daily activities such as personal hygiene.

How Is the Rating Impacted if Adjustment Disorder Is a Secondary Condition?

It is common for veterans to struggle with more than one mental health condition related to their military service. Many times, adjustment disorder will accompany depression or anxiety. If your adjustment disorder is linked to a different service-connected disability, you may apply for additional VA disability benefits. If you are assigned multiple disability ratings, these ratings will be combined to determine your actual VA disability rating. This is not as simple as adding up your disability ratings, however.

The VA uses a “whole person theory” to calculate your combined rating, as one person cannot receive a rating that is greater than 100%. To learn more about how your secondary adjustment disorder VA rating is factored into your overall rating, consider using the disability calculator or speaking with your attorney.

What If the VA Denies Your Claim for Adjustment Disorder?

If the VA denies your claim for adjustment disorder, you may move forward with an appeal. There are three different avenues a person can use to appeal an unfair denial of their claim. The option they use will depend on the circumstances of their case and the reason for the initial denial of their claim. If submitting additional evidence is necessary, a Supplemental Claim may be the right appeal option. On the other hand, if there has been an error in the decision-making process, a Higher-Level Review may be beneficial. Finally, an appeal can be filed with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals to schedule a hearing, submit additional evidence, or request a direct review of your case.

Hiring an Attorney Near You to Help You with Your VA Disability Appeal for Adjustment Disorder

If you struggle with adjustment disorder, you are not alone. Thousands of veterans struggle to work, live, and engage in social activity due to their adjustment disorder and related conditions like depression and anxiety. At VetLaw, we advocate for the rights of veterans across the United States, working tirelessly to appeal denied claims and secure the VA disability for adjustment disorder benefits that they deserve. To schedule your free case review and learn more about how we can help, consider contacting our office today.