Statistics indicate that one in four female Veterans and one in 100 male Veterans have experienced military sexual trauma (MST) while serving their county. This can involve several different forms of unwanted sexual contact, including rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sexually-oriented hazing activities.
MST can have lasting effects on many aspects of a Veteran’s life. If your MST results in a diagnosis of clinical depression, you are entitled to VA disability benefits providing cash compensation as well as access to medical care.
How Depression Is Rated by the VA
Depression can cause symptoms such as:
- Low energy
- Lack of concentration and difficulty focusing
- Lack of interest in most activities
- Poor personal grooming
- Appetite changes
- Chronic pain and unexplained physical problems such as headaches or stomachaches
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
Depression is rated as part of the General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders category on the VA rating schedule. Ratings range from 0% to 100% and are awarded in 10% increments. A 100% rating means a Veteran has no ability to function on a day-to-day basis, while a 0% rating acknowledges a service connection but finds that a Veteran’s ability to function is not significantly impaired. Ratings are based on the symptoms outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
A Veteran with depression caused by MST may also suffer from anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or other mental health conditions. However, the VA rating schedule uses one general rating formula for mental health disorders. Due to the overlapping nature of symptoms, Veterans can expect to receive a single disability rating for all of their mental health conditions.
Receiving TDIU for Depression Caused by MST
A 100% rating for depression caused by MST is very difficult to obtain. However, Veterans with depression linked to MST often find that they are unable to maintain employment due to their condition. In this case, they may be eligible for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits.
Getting TDIU for depression allows a Veteran to receive compensation at the rate of a person who is considered 100% disabled under schedular criteria. It acknowledges that they have a high level of vocational impairment due to the challenges associated with their service-connected disability.
Contact Our Experienced Veterans Benefits Attorneys
If you are suffering from depression caused by military sexual trauma, you’re not alone. Our experienced attorneys are here to help you access the benefits you’ve earned in the service of your country. Contact the office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, to request a free, no-obligation consultation.