Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of people in America, and it’s the primary reason veterans are hospitalized in the healthcare system of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

This disease includes conditions such as strokes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and peripheral artery disease, and it’s a major cause of veteran disability. Not only is cardiovascular disease a serious condition, but it's often linked with other illnesses, including spinal cord injuries, diabetes, and depression.

doctor_with_patientThe relationship between heart disease and depression is well documented. Approximately 22 percent of veterans diagnosed with angina, heart attack, stroke, or coronary heart disease (CAD) also suffer from depression.

The VA recognizes depression as a serious, ratable illness, and individuals who suffer from this condition may be eligible for disability benefits.

How the VA Rates Depression Secondary to Heart Conditions

In general, depression and other mental disorders are rated by the VA depending on how much the condition interferes with a veteran’s occupational and social functioning and ability. The rating given to a veteran’s claim is based on how the symptoms impact his life, not the specific symptoms.

Available percentage ratings for depression are: 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, or 100. If a veteran receives a 0 percent rating, this can still be significant, as it may entitle him to VA benefits such as healthcare. If a veteran receives a 100 percent rating for depression, it means he has no ability to function in social or work situations.

Seeking Benefits for Secondary Depression

If you’re seeking benefits for heart condition secondary depression, it’s important to include the following with your disability application:

  • Specific evidence that your depression is the result of an accepted service-connected heart condition.
  • Expert medical opinion about the relationship between your depression and your heart condition.
  • Proof that your service-connected heart condition is on record with the VA.
  • Medical records that show you were diagnosed with depression by a physician.

Contact Cuddigan Law

If you’re a veteran suffering from depression due to a heart condition and would like to submit an application for a secondary condition, contact Cuddigan Law and talk to one of our experienced VA disability lawyers. We’ll help with your claim for disability benefits and explain the type of evidence you need to prove your depression was caused by your service-connected heart problem.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska