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How To Successfully File A VA Claim for Depression

Last updated: January 31, 2024

Recognizing and medically diagnosing depression is essential for veterans starting the VA claim process.

Successful VA claims for depression require comprehensive medical records and a clear service connection.

It takes time and frequently the assistance of certified agents or legal counsel to navigate the VA claim procedure.

A major mental health issue that many veterans face is depression. This crippling illness can be brought on by the difficulties encountered while serving, including exposure to horrific situations. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides compensation to veterans who are experiencing depression because it recognizes the seriousness of this problem. 

In order to give veterans the information and resources they need to get the care they need, this guide attempts to present an authoritative and educational summary of the VA's depression claim procedure.

Fast Facts

The VA disability rating for depression ranges from 0% to 100%, based on severity and daily life impact.

Recognizing Depression: The First Step

It's important to comprehend what depression means in the context of VA benefits before diving into the claims procedure. Depression is a serious mental health disorder marked by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and lack of interest in once-enjoyed activities. 

It goes beyond simply feeling depressed or going through a difficult time. Additional symptoms include changes in appetite, sleep issues, exhaustion, and trouble focusing. Veterans who exhibit these symptoms are advised to get evaluated medically. An official diagnosis from a medical professional is an essential first step in filing a VA claim.

Fast Facts

Veterans can appeal VA decisions with new evidence, a higher-level review, or a Veterans Law Judge hearing.

Preparing Your VA Claim for Depression

There are numerous crucial elements in the VA's depression claims process:

  • Assemble medical documentation: Thorough medical records are essential for a VA claim to be approved. This includes records of your diagnosis, course of therapy, and any hospital stays brought on by depression.
  • Service link: You need to prove that your depression has a service link in order to be eligible for VA compensation. This entails proving a connection between your military service and depression. Statements from family members or other service members, as well as service records that document traumatic or stressful incidents, can be used as evidence.
  • Send in Your Claim: Claim submission options include mail, in-person VA offices, and the eBenefits portal on the VA website. To prevent delays, make sure all required forms are accurately filled out.
  • C&P Examination: The VA may ask for a Compensation & Pension (C&P) exam after you file your claim in order to assess the extent of your depression and how it affects your day-to-day activities.
  • VA Rating Decision: The VA will decide after considering your claim, supporting medical documentation, and the findings of the C&P exam. The amount of disability compensation that you will receive is determined by rating the severity of your depression if it is granted.

Understanding VA Disability Ratings for Depression

Using the General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders, the VA assigns a rating to depression. Ten percentiles, from 0% to 100%, are used to rate the severity of the illness and how it affects social and professional functioning. more ratings correspond to more severe symptoms and a larger impact on day-to-day functioning, which translates into more compensation.

Fast Facts

The VA offers ongoing support, ensuring veterans are not alone in accessing their deserved benefits.

Tips for a Successful VA Claim for Depression

  • Be Thorough and Honest: Provide detailed information about your symptoms and how they affect your life. Honesty is crucial in accurately conveying the severity of your condition. 
  • Seek Support: Consider working with a VA-accredited representative or a veterans service organization. They can provide valuable assistance in navigating the claim process. 
  • Stay Organized: Keep copies of all documents submitted and received. Staying organized will help you track your claim's progress and respond to any requests from the VA promptly. 
  • Be Patient: The VA claim process can be lengthy. Patience is essential, but don't hesitate to check the status of your claim or ask for help if needed.

Appealing a VA Decision

You have the opportunity to file an appeal if the rating decision is unsatisfactory or if your claim is rejected. You have three options: present fresh evidence, ask for a more thorough assessment, or have a Veterans Law Judge evaluate your case. It's important to know your rights regarding appeals, and getting legal counsel or assistance might be helpful.


Depression is a serious condition that can profoundly impact a veteran's life. Navigating the VA claim process for depression can be challenging, but understanding the steps involved, preparing thoroughly, and seeking support can lead to a successful claim. 

Remember, the VA is there to support you, and you are not alone in this journey. By taking the right steps and advocating for your needs, you can access the benefits you've rightfully earned through your service to our nation.

Explore your options when getting a VA disability lawyer when seeking veterans benefits from our resources at Disability Help.

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Chloe Powers
Chloe works with policymakers on behalf of Disability Help to support their work at a strategic level, ensuring the conditions are in place for creative individuals and organizations to grow, reach their potential and effect relevant, sustainable change.
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