Veterans who return from duty with a service-connected illness or condition may suffer from more than just a physical injury. They may also suffer from depression as a secondary condition.

Many veterans don’t realize they can apply for disability benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for a secondary condition, also called a secondary disability. This secondary condition occurs as a result of another service-connected medical condition.

To qualify for VA benefits for depression as a secondary condition, you must prove that it’s connected to your time in service. VA Ratings for depression vary widely based on how severe your symptoms are and the extent to which they interfere with your daily routine. If you want to apply for disability for depression, it’s best to hire an experienced VA disability attorney to help determine if you qualify for benefits.

Rating Mental Illness and Depression

vet_with_depressionPeople diagnosed with depression may share some similar symptoms, but everyone experiences this condition differently.

Consequently, the VA designated a formula that measures the level of mental disability using the following percentage ratings:


  • 0: A zero percent rating means a veteran’s mental condition was diagnosed by a medical professional, but his symptoms don’t interfere with his social or occupational functioning. Additionally, the veteran doesn’t take medication for this condition on a consistent basis. This rating is non-compensable. 
  • 10: For this rating, the veteran shows impairment from mild to inconsistent with symptoms that limit or decrease his work performance during times of stress. Additionally, the symptoms can be controlled with consistent medication.
  • 30: A veteran who receives this percentage rating shows social and occupational impairment because he experiences anxiety, panic attacks at least once every week, sleep problems, memory loss, and depression.
  • 50: For this rating, a veteran shows occupational and social impairment with “reduced reliability and productivity,” with behavior such as impaired judgment, panic attacks more than once a week, and problems with work and social relationships.
  • 70: A veteran with 70 percent secondary disability shows occupational and social impairment with problems with work, family relationships, and judgment due to ongoing panic attacks, depression that affects independent functioning, and the inability to handle relationships.
  • 100: For this rating, a veteran shows total and complete social and occupational impairment due to hallucinations, ongoing danger of self-harm, and disorientation of time and place.

Contact Cuddigan Law

If you need help getting VA disability for depression, contact the attorneys at Cuddigan Law (402) 933 5405. We will examine your specific case, develop the best strategy, and work with you to submit your claim or file an appeal if it’s been denied.


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