What VA disability claim documentation is needed for adjustment disorder?
Published July 28, 2023
Adjustment disorder documentation that will be needed to support a successful VA disability claim is similar to that of other psychiatric VA disability claims. This article discusses VA claims for adjustment disorder, what the VA considers when evaluating those claims, and what documentation you will need to collect and submit for a successful outcome.
What does the VA consider when evaluating adjustment disorder claims?
Adjustment disorder in veterans is one of many psychiatric disability conditions that the VA reviews everyday for purposes of possible VA disability compensation.
Although these conditions are very different from a lay person perspective, and even from a medical perspective, the VA disability process somewhat lumps them together. Adjustment disorder is evaluated against the same list of symptoms and work and personal life impairments as other conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and even bipolar or schizophrenia.
Unfortunately, this fact may discourage veterans from filing a claim for adjustment disorder or other conditions, not wanting to be lumped in “mental cases.” Don’t let the clumsiness of the VA’s process keep you from applying for benefits if you have been diagnosed with, or think you might have, adjustment disorder.
VA disability ratings for adjustment disorder claims range from 0% (formal diagnosis, but symptoms are not severe enough to interfere with occupational and social functioning or to require continuous medication), with intermediate steps at 10%, 30%, 50%, and 70% up to 100% (total occupational and social impairment). There is no average VA rating for adjustment disorder.
What documentation do I need for a VA disability claim for adjustment disorder?
For all disability benefit claims the VA looks for a current condition (and at some point, a formal diagnosis), competent evidence that something happened in service, and then a nexus ( connection) between the two. The evidence of these three elements comes in different forms and will be unique to your case.
Types of evidence that the VA reviews will include your service treatment records and post-service treatment medical records (VA or civilian). Remember that they are looking both for something that happened in service, such as a report of injury or symptoms, and a current diagnosis.
Sometimes your service and other medical records do not fully demonstrate the full story of what your condition is or what caused it. Other records can be used to supplement the evidence, including records from battle buddies, family, close friends, sometimes even clergy or civilian therapists. Employment records may be used to show how your condition and symptoms are affecting your daily life, at work, at home, or in social situations.
What happens if your claim is denied? Or if the rating is lower than expected?
Unfortunately, your initial VA disability claim may be denied. Don’t give up. Get assistance to help you take the next steps that may result in eventual granting of your claim.
Your ratings decision can be appealed within one year. There are three different types of VA disability appeals available, and some allow you to submit additional evidence to supplement your claim.
You can appeal an outright denial of service-connection for your condition, the disability rating percentage, or improper effective dates. Statistically, VA claim appeals are successful on some level at least 70% of the time, with the highest success rate among veterans represented by private attorneys.
What should you look for in a good VA claim attorney?
If you are considering filing an appeal, it is a good time to explore your options in getting a lawyer to help advocate for you with the VA, and help you line up the necessary evidence to convince them to agree with you.
You will want an attorney experienced in handling VA disability benefit appeals, lots of them. Although prior results for other clients cannot be guaranteed in your case, prior experience gives them a wealth of knowledge of similar cases to help you succeed as well.
VA disability attorneys are also required to be state-licensed (as with all other attorneys) and also be accredited by the VA (you can check status here).
Many VA disability claim attorneys work on a contingency basis – they get paid only when and if you get paid. They will not require any upfront payment from their veteran clients. Some law firms will also foot the bill for any necessary independent medical examinations (IMEs) or vocational rehabilitation reports. Make sure you fully understand what costs and fees you will be responsible for and when before you sign a fee agreement.
Have you been denied or underrated for an adjustment disorder or other mental health claim with the VA? Veterans Law Group may be able to help you with an appeal. consultation now.