Any sort of war exposure can severely impact an individual, physically and mentally. Today, many war veterans are seeking treatment and compensation for mental illnesses acquired from combat. The VA, formally known as the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, is a department within the United States Government that administers a multitude of different benefits and services for veterans, providing financial and life assistance to current military personnel, veterans, and their dependents. The VA, which evaluates mental illnesses based on the criteria put forth by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), has eight main categories of mental disabilities that veterans can receive compensation for. They include:
• Psychotic disorders;
• Amnesia and other cognitive disorders;
• Dissociative disorders;
• Somatoform disorders;
• Mood disorders;
• Adjustment disorders; and
• Eating disorders.
In order to determine the amount of compensation one can receive, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs rates each disability and matches an appropriate percentage of coverage to the mental illnesses. The rating scale for mental illness, as set forth by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, is set at 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, and 100%. The percentages represent the amount of compensation a veteran can receive for their disability. In the event that an individual cannot function at work or socially in any way, they may be able to receive a 100% rating. This is reserved for those with extreme, debilitating mental disorders.
For veterans that are suffering from mental illnesses, to receive compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs, one must prove that they incurred the illness during wartime. Any preexisting conditions are not acceptable for compensation, as are genetic or developmental disorders and defects. However, a veteran can receive compensation if they have a preexisting condition if they are admitted into the military with a condition and then develop another condition or have a condition worsen from war action. This is called “aggravated service connection.” To prove this, one must show a current evaluation from a VA doctor, testimony that another condition has developed, or a previous condition was worsened through war exposure, and lastly, medical proof that the worsening or dually developing condition is connected to some service event.
If a veteran without a personal history of mental illness does develop one from war exposure, they can be compensated for their disability as well. Similarly, one must undergo a current mental health evaluation and diagnosis by a VA doctor, show evidence that the disability developed during or because of war action, and lastly, prove that there is a connection between a significant military event and the mental illness.
Developing a mental illness or having a mental condition worsen because of combat has become increasingly prevalent. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs has designed a program that can aid the disabled veterans with monetary compensation and other financial assistance. If you or a loved one has suffered from a war-related mental illness or worsening mental condition, it is essential to contact a skilled Veterans Affairs attorney. The attorneys of Sullivan & Kehoe, LLP concentrate their practice in Veterans Disability Law. With over 50 years of combined experience between its lawyers, our attorneys may assist you or a loved one in obtaining an Aid and Attendance Pension. Call our office at (800) 395 -7830 to schedule a consultation in our New York City, Garden City, Kings Park, Riverhead, or White Plains office