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Persistent Depressive Disorder VA Rating | VetLaw

Legally reviewed by Brendan Garcia , Owner and Lead Attorney

Veterans grappling with the ongoing challenges of Persistent Depressive Disorder can file VA disability claims if their mental condition is service-related or secondary to another qualified disability.


  • Veterans often face mental health challenges like Persistent Depressive Disorder after leaving active-duty military service, affecting their health and relationships.
  • The veterans disability claims lawyers of VetLaw offer legal support for veterans seeking Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) VA disability benefits.
  • Symptoms of PDD include low mood, fatigue, and impaired concentration over multiple years.
  • The VA considers PDD a disability and offers a VA rating for depression to determine benefits.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder can be a direct result of military service, or it can be secondary to another service-related medical issue.

After dedicating so much of your time to our country, its people, and its ideals, you deserve the support you need following your service. Depression is a prevalent mental health condition in the military, impacting the lives of thousands of veterans and their families.

While persistent depressive disorder VA disability benefits are available to help veterans overcome the burden of this condition, securing these benefits is often an uphill battle. At VetLaw, we are advocates for veterans struggling with persistent depressive disorder and other conditions that impact their daily lives and routines.

Our team of knowledgeable veterans disability claims attorneys will fight for your rights and ensure that you receive the benefits you deserve. We regularly work alongside veterans to increase their persistent depressive disorder VA rating, strengthen their claims for benefits, and appeal unfairly denied disability claims.

To learn more about how we can help, consider scheduling your free case review today. You can also call us at (855) 808-6877 to set up a free consultation.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Persistent Depressive Disorder?

Persistent depressive disorder, also known as dysthymia, is a type of ongoing depression characterized by a sad, low, or dark mood. Individuals with persistent depressive disorder may feel empty, have trouble completing daily tasks, and lose interest in hobbies and activities.

They also may struggle with self-esteem and feeling hopeless. Other common signs and symptoms of PDD include:

While persistent depressive disorder is not well-understood, scientists believe the condition is caused by a disruption of neurotransmitters. Researchers are still investigating the link between a bacterial imbalance in the gut and mental health, as bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract produce neurotransmitters that help the brain govern mood.

Experiencing serious trauma and chronic stress are also common root causes of the condition, which many veterans cite as the source of their persistent depressive disorder.

What Is the Difference Between PDD and MDD?

Due to an overlap of common symptoms, persistent depressive disorder (PDD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) are often confused. The difference between these two forms of depression is the duration of symptoms.

While major depressive disorder typically consists of depressive episodes with a gap of at least two months, persistent depressive disorder is ongoing, with symptoms lasting at least two years.

Does the VA Consider Persistent Depressive Disorder to Be a Disability?

Many veterans struggle with depression after their military service which impacts their health, relationships, work, and quality of life. For this reason, the VA does consider persistent depressive disorder to be a disability.

Veterans suffering from service-related persistent depressive disorder may qualify for a VA rating for depression and disability benefits as long as they can establish a service connection. To establish a service connection for persistent depressive disorder, you must show evidence of the following:

  • A current diagnosis of PDD
  • An event, injury, or illness occurred during your military service
  • A medical nexus – or connection – exists between your PDD diagnosis and the in-service event, injury, or illness

Successfully applying for and obtaining persistent depressive disorder VA disability benefits hinges on the evidence you provide connecting your PDD to your military service.

At VetLaw, we take a comprehensive approach to VA disability benefits claims. Our team uses lay statements, medical records, and a range of other compelling evidence to build and strengthen our clients’ cases.

How Does Military Experience Influence Symptoms of Persistent Depressive Disorder?

Veterans experience unique stressors that may negatively affect their health and well-being. Research indicates that 14% to 16% of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are impacted by depression. The military environment can act as a catalyst for the development of persistent depressive disorder.

This is often due to prolonged separation from loved ones, the stress of combat, and the experience of witnessing traumatic events. As a result of decades of warfare, more and more veterans are seeking mental health treatment, with many having experienced combat and deployment.

Even if none of these circumstances apply, military service can still be indirectly responsible for a veteran’s PDD. Both combat and non-combat roles leave military personnel vulnerable to harm. It follows that Persistent Depressive Disorder may be secondary to another service-related disability, which may mean a vet is eligible for a VA rating for depression. 

Many veterans who survive catastrophic injuries or contend with chronic illnesses also fight depression. Long-term and life-altering disabilities can involve painful treatments, incapacitating side effects, and financial stress. Overall, a generally lower quality of life can lead to depression.

What Is the VA Rating for Persistent Depressive Disorder?

The persistent depressive disorder VA rating is included in the VA General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders. This is used to evaluate and quantify the severity of a veteran’s symptoms. The VA will assign a rating between 0% and 100%, in increments of 10.

Generally, the more severe the symptoms, the higher the disability rating. When assigning a VA rating for depression, the VA will consider your ability to perform the activities of daily living, how your symptoms interfere with your life and work, and the severity of your symptoms.

Veterans who have been diagnosed with PDD but do not struggle with symptoms that interfere with day-to-day functioning will be given a 0% VA rating for depression. On the other hand, veterans with total occupational and social impairment will be awarded a 100% disability rating.

What Are Common Secondary Conditions to PDD?

The combination of PDD and secondary conditions can further exacerbate a veteran’s health and well-being. A secondary condition occurs when a service-connected disability causes or aggravates another condition.

Some secondary conditions, like anxiety, are more easily recognized than others. Other common secondary conditions of PDD include:

It is important to note that some of the secondary conditions of PDD are mental health conditions, while others are not. If you have a persistent depressive disorder VA disability rating and want to establish a secondary mental health condition, the VA will adjust your overall rating based on the totality of your conditions.

On the other hand, if your secondary condition is sleep apnea or migraines, for instance, the VA will assign a separate rating for that condition which will factored into your overall disability rating.

What If the VA Denies Your Claim for Persistent Depressive Disorder?

If your claim for persistent depressive disorder VA disability benefits is denied, it is possible to appeal the decision through one of the VA’s three appeal options. Seeking legal assistance can be helpful at this point. The VA appeals process is complex, and even small missteps during the process can derail your ability to receive benefits.

Depending on the unique circumstances of your case, your veterans disability appeals attorney will advise you to move forward with one of the following:

  • Submitting a Supplemental Claim to provide new evidence to support your claim.
  • Requesting a Higher-Level Review for a senior claims adjudicator to review the same evidence that was submitted with your initial claim.
  • Appealing through the Board of Veterans’ Appeals to submit additional evidence, request a direct review, or request a hearing with a Veterans Law Judge.

The appeals process offers important protections to veterans who were denied the benefits they are entitled to. At VetLaw, our team of appeals lawyers empower veterans to exercise their right to appeal. We will diligently fight for the benefits you deserve at every step of the process.

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

Persistent depressive disorder can have a long-lasting impact on your ability to work, enjoy your favorite activities, and maintain the relationships that matter to you. If you are applying for Persistent Depressive Disorder VA disability benefits, but are caught in the cycle of denials and appeals, our experienced team can help.

We have been a dependable source of valuable legal advice for veterans for the past decade. Our team of skilled veterans disability appeals lawyers is proud to serve clients seeking fair compensation for their service-related Persistent Depressive Disorder. If you have been rejected by the VA for disability benefits or denied a VA rating for depression, VetLaw is the dedicated team you want on your side. 

As a nationally recognized veteran-owned law firm, we understand how to navigate the VA appeals process. We can help you obtain a favorable persistent depressive disorder VA rating and successfully secure the benefits you deserve. To begin your free case review, consider contacting VetLaw today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Persistent Depressive Disorder more serious than Major Depressive Disorder?

When diagnosing PDD, the duration of symptoms is often used to differentiate between Persistent Depressive Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder. However, another distinguishing factor is the severity of the patient’s symptoms. Generally, PDD is characterized by milder symptoms as compared to MDD.

What is the VA disability rating scale for mental health conditions like Persistent Depressive Disorder?

The VA rating schedule for mental conditions starts at 0%, which means that the disability is not serious enough to justify compensation. Then, the next level is 10%, followed by 30%, 50%, 70%, and 100% disability. Rating schedules for physical conditions typically have additional levels at 20%, 40%, and 60%.

Is Persistent Depressive Disorder more common in men or women?

In general, depression is more common in women. More specifically, Persistent Depressive Disorder is twice as common in women as compared to men, according to Johns Hopkins. Depression is a known risk factor for suicide, which contributes to the concerning suicide rates among female veterans.

What types of evidence can I use in my VA Persistent Depressive Disorder disability claim?

These are a few sources you can use to document that you are eligible to collect VA disability benefits for your service-related Persistent Depressive Disorder:

  • Testimony or notes from your psychologist or therapist
  • Statement from your psychiatrist, if you are taking medication to treat PDD
  • Personal journal or diary entries that speak to your mood
  • Statements from your spouse, family, friends, or co-workers that describe your behavior or mood over a period of time
  • Military service records that can be used to identify what triggered or aggravated your PDD

Your veteran disability claims denial attorney will be able to advise you on which types of evidence will be necessary and compelling in your VA appeal. Additionally, they can help ensure that this information is verified, organized, and submitted by the VA’s deadline to file an appeal for disability benefits.