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December 31, 2020

VA Rating for Anxiety Explained – The Definitive Guide (Plus 3 *NEW* Tips Revealed)

Last updated on March 7, 2021

In this post, we will be exploring how to get a VA rating for anxiety in detail.

I’ll also reveal 3 new expert-level tips to increase your VA disability rating for anxiety, even if you’ve been previously denied.

In 2021, a veteran’s VA rating for anxiety can be 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%.

So, let’s take a minute to explore the law regarding the symptoms and impairment required to warrant a VA disability rating for anxiety.

Many veterans suffer from various mental health issues, to include Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

In addition, Anxiety and Depression are common secondary VA disability claims, especially Anxiety and Depression secondary to service-connected physical ailments, such as neck pain, back pain, and knee pain.

If you’re suffering from service-connected physical disabilities, you may qualify for a high-value secondary mental health claim know as Chronic Pain Syndrome with Anxiety and Depression, also known as Somatic Symptom Disorder.

A veteran’s final VA rating for anxiety depends upon the frequency and severity of their symptoms, meaning, the more severe your symptoms, the higher rating for anxiety.

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

While it’s normal to feel anxious sometimes, excessive anxious thoughts and worry that are difficult to control and interfere with day-to-day activities may be a sign of a serious mental health condition known as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

Generalized Anxiety Disorder has symptoms that are like panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other types of anxiety, but they’re all different conditions, and depend upon the frequency, severity, and duration of your symptoms.

In many cases, Generalized Anxiety Disorder occurs simultaneously with anxiety, depression, or mood disorders.

Anxiety is also an underlying symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in veterans.

In some cases, anxiety disorders improve with psychotherapy or medications.

Making lifestyle changes, learning coping skills, and using relaxation techniques (e.g., mindfulness) can help as well.

Common Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders in Veterans

Anxiety Disorder Symptoms in Veterans scaled 1
Anxiety Disorder Symptoms in Veterans scaled 1

Many veterans have an anxiety disorder, and according to the Mayo Clinic, common symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder may include:

  • Persistent worrying or anxiety about past, present, or future events
  • Overthinking plans and solutions and imaging worst case scenarios
  • Perceiving situations and events as threatening, even when they aren’t
  • Difficulty handling uncertainty
  • Indecisiveness and fear of making the wrong decision
  • Inability to set aside or let go of a worry
  • Inability to relax, feeling restless, and feeling keyed up or on edge
  • Difficulty concentrating, or the feeling that your mind “goes blank”

Physical signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle tension or muscle aches
  • Trembling, shaking, or feeling twitchy
  • Nervousness or being easily startled
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Irritability and anger

Your constant fear and worry, to include physical symptoms of anxiety can cause you significant occupational and social impairment, and negatively impact many areas of your life.

Is Anxiety a VA Disability?

Yes, anxiety is a VA disability and can be rated at 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100% depending upon the frequency, severity, and duration of your symptoms.

Anxiety disorders are most commonly rated under CFR 38, Part 4, VA Schedule of Ratings, Diagnostic Code 9400, Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

The average VA disability rating for anxiety is 70%.

VA Rating for Anxiety Disorder: Basic Eligibility Criteria

In order to be eligible for an Anxiety VA rating, a veteran must meet three (3) criteria by law:

  • #1. Medical diagnosis of an Anxiety Disorder in a medical record (Service Treatment Records, VA medical records, or private medical records)
  • #2. Your Anxiety was caused or made worse by your active-duty military service (“Nexus” for service connection)
  • #3. Persistent and recurring symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (Severity of Symptoms)

If you think you have a mental health conditions such as an anxiety disorder, but don’t have a medical diagnosis, pick-up the phone and call the VA mental health facility nearest you to make an appointment right away!

If you’re trying to increase your VA rating for anxiety, you need to prove to the VA that your symptoms are now worse and warrant a higher rating by law.

The #1 best way to increase your anxiety VA rating is to get a private independent psychological evaluation and tell your uncomfortable truths about the severity of your symptoms.

Anxiety Disorders: Detailed VA Rating Criteria by Diagnostic Code

Anxiety disorders are mental conditions that are characterized by severe fear, worry, and unease. All the following anxiety disorders are rated based on the Psychological Rating System.

  • Code 9400Generalized anxiety disorder is severe, uncontrollable worry about day-to-day things. This worry is often irrational.
  • Code 9403All phobias, including social anxiety disorder (or social phobia), are rated under this code. Phobias are irrational, severe fears that are tied to specific things. Phobias can range from fear of things like spiders, strangers, blood, etc., to fear of situations like big crowds, flying, leaving the house without your pants on, etc. Phobias are more than basic fear or dislike. They are often so severe that they lead to extreme behaviors like violence or panic attacks. A specific phobia must be diagnosed in order to be rated under this code.  
  • Code 9404Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a condition where anxiety causes repetitive actions that are performed to reduce the fear. For example, a person afraid of germs will wash their hands obsessively. Often the repetitive action is associated with numbers: washing their hands 14 (20, 5, whatever) times. These repetitive actions can interfere with the ability to work or perform daily tasks.
  • Code 9410: All other specific anxiety disorders that are not noted elsewhere are rated under this code. 
  • Code 9411Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety condition that is caused by experiencing a traumatic event. A traumatic event can be defined as many different things, including car crashes, combat, death, abuse, extreme fear caused by an event, physical trauma, sexual abuse, or any other event that conflicts with an individual’s moral/natural ideals.
  • Code 9412Panic disorder and/or agoraphobia are rated under this code. Panic disorder is a condition where severe panic attacks occur in stressful or fearful situations. Panic attacks are episodes of severe fear that causes the inability to act rationally. With panic disorder, the panic attacks can occur at any time and can last for a few minutes to many months. Agoraphobia is not the same as panic disorder, but often exists along with panic disorder. It is the fear of public places that can also cause panic attacks.
  • Code 9413: All other unspecified anxiety disorders are rated under this code. Basically, any anxiety disorder that doesn’t have a particular name is rated here.

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38 CFR VA Rating Scale for Anxiety and Depression

 General Schedule of VA Ratings for Mental Health Conditions
VA Rating Percentage

Total occupational and social impairment, due to such symptoms as: gross impairment in thought processes or communication; persistent delusions or hallucinations; grossly inappropriate behavior; persistent danger of hurting self or others; intermittent inability to perform activities of daily living (including maintenance of minimal personal hygiene); disorientation to time or place; memory loss for names of close relatives, own occupation, or own name.

100%

Occupational and social impairment, with deficiencies in most areas, such as work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood, due to such symptoms as: suicidal ideation; obsessional rituals which interfere with routine activities; speech intermittently illogical, obscure, or irrelevant; near-continuous panic or depression affecting the ability to function independently, appropriately and effectively; impaired impulse control (such as unprovoked irritability with periods of violence); spatial disorientation; neglect of personal appearance and hygiene; difficulty in adapting to stressful circumstances (including work or a worklike setting); inability to establish and maintain effective relationships.

70%

Occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity due to such symptoms as: flattened affect; circumstantial, circumlocutory, or stereotyped speech; panic attacks more than once a week; difficulty in understanding complex commands; impairment of short- and long-term memory (e.g., retention of only highly learned material, forgetting to complete tasks); impaired judgment; impaired abstract thinking; disturbances of motivation and mood; difficulty in establishing and maintaining effective work and social relationships.

50%

Occupational and social impairment with occasional decrease in work efficiency and intermittent periods of inability to perform occupational tasks (although generally functioning satisfactorily, with routine behavior, self-care, and conversation normal), due to such symptoms as: depressed mood, anxiety, suspiciousness, panic attacks (weekly or less often), chronic sleep impairment, mild memory loss (such as forgetting names, directions, recent events).

30%

Occupational and social impairment due to mild or transient symptoms which decrease work efficiency and ability to perform occupational tasks only during periods of significant stress, or symptoms controlled by continuous medication.

10%

A mental condition has been formally diagnosed, but symptoms are not severe enough either to interfere with occupational and social functioning or to require continuous medication.

0%

2021 VA Rating Criteria for Anxiety Explained

0% VA Rating for Anxiety

A mental condition has been formally diagnosed, but symptoms are not severe enough either to interfere with occupational and social functioning or to require continuous medication.

This means you have a medical diagnosis for an anxiety disorder, but no subjective symptoms.

You have no occupational and social impairment at the 0% rating for anxiety.

10% VA Rating for Anxiety

Occupational and social impairment due to mild or transient symptoms which decrease work efficiency and ability to perform occupational tasks only during periods of significant stress, or symptoms controlled by continuous medication.

Translation: You have very mild symptoms of anxiety.

Maybe you take antidepressants, but these medications keep your symptoms in check most of the time.

30% Anxiety VA Rating

Occupational and social impairment with occasional decrease in work efficiency and intermittent periods of inability to perform occupational tasks (although generally functioning satisfactorily, with routine behavior, self-care, and conversation normal), due to such symptoms as: depressed mood, anxiety, suspiciousness, panic attacks (weekly or less often), chronic sleep impairment, mild memory loss (such as forgetting names, directions, recent events).

The 30% rating for anxiety still has fairly mild symptoms.

You have some depression, anxiety, memory loss, and panic attacks, but not very often.

You might be having some trouble sleeping along with mild memory loss.

Typically, you’re having panic attacks LESS than once per week.

Note that a panic attack and anxiety are NOT the same thing.

Panic attacks come on suddenly and involve intense and often overwhelming fear that usually last 10 minutes or less.

They’re often accompanied by frightening physical symptoms, such as a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, dry mouth, and nausea.

Panic Attack Symptoms in Veterans scaled 1
Panic Attack Symptoms in Veterans scaled 1

50% VA Disability Rating for Anxiety

Occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity due to such symptoms as: flattened affect; circumstantial, circumlocutory, or stereotyped speech; panic attacks more than once a week; difficulty in understanding complex commands; impairment of short- and long-term memory (e.g., retention of only highly learned material, forgetting to complete tasks); impaired judgment; impaired abstract thinking; disturbances of motivation and mood; difficulty in establishing and maintaining effective work and social relationships.

The 50% rating for anxiety has moderately severe symptoms.

The biggest difference between the 30% and 50% rating is that at this level, you’re having a lot of trouble in your relationships.

Perhaps you don’t have any friends or just want to be alone.

Maybe you’re divorced or can’t get along with your spouse anymore.

The other difference is you’re now having panic attacks MORE than one time per week.

70% VA Rating for Anxiety

Occupational and social impairment, with deficiencies in most areas, such as work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood, due to such symptoms as: suicidal ideation; obsessional rituals which interfere with routine activities; speech intermittently illogical, obscure, or irrelevant; near-continuous panic or depression affecting the ability to function independently, appropriately and effectively; impaired impulse control (such as unprovoked irritability with periods of violence); spatial disorientation; neglect of personal appearance and hygiene; difficulty in adapting to stressful circumstances (including work or a work like setting); inability to establish and maintain effective relationships.

The 70% rating for anxiety has very severe symptoms and is a big jump from the 50% level.

Notice the keyword change to “Deficiencies in Most Areas.”

Maybe you constantly check windows and doors in your home or have other obsessive rituals as you go about your day, such as a video camera monitoring system around your property.

Your panic attacks, depression, and anxiety are now happening constantly.

You think about suicide often, meaning you’re having thoughts or even making plans.

You are unable to establish and maintain effective relationships at work and socially.

100% VA Disability Rating for Anxiety

Total occupational and social impairment, due to such symptoms as: gross impairment in thought processes or communication; persistent delusions or hallucinations; grossly inappropriate behavior; persistent danger of hurting self or others; intermittent inability to perform activities of daily living (including maintenance of minimal personal hygiene); disorientation to time or place; memory loss for names of close relatives, own occupation, or own name.

The 100% PTSD rating has the most severe symptoms.

Notice the change to “Total Occupational and Social Impairment.”

This means you’re having major issues at work and at home.

Perhaps you can’t work because your PTSD is so severe.

This is the first time we see delusional thoughts, hallucinations, and grossly inappropriate behavior.

Severe memory loss and occasional inability to care for oneself are now present at the 100% level.

Most Important Sections of the DBQ for Anxiety – Other Mental Health Conditions

You can either obtain a DBQ for Other Mental Health Conditions from a private provider or wait and let the C&P examiner complete an electronic version of the DBQ at your C&P exam.

>> Need an Independent Medical Opinion for Anxiety? Join VA Claims Insider Elite now to get one from our private medical providers. <<

In addition to having a medical diagnosis for an anxiety disorder, there are two critical sections of the DBQ for other mental health conditions that determine your final VA rating for mental health.

In Section 3, a private provider or the C&P examiner will check one of 7 boxes based upon their subjective assessment of your overall level of occupational and social impairment.

Anxiety DBQ Occupational and Social Impairment
Anxiety DBQ Occupational and Social Impairment

You’ll notice the keywords for each block mirrors the PTSD Rating Scale verbatim.

Regardless of whether you have PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder, Chronic Adjustment Disorder, or any other Generalized Anxiety Disorder, all mental health conditions are rated under the same scale.  

This is the MOST IMPORTANT section on your Anxiety Disorder DBQ:

Section 7 is the second most important part of your DBQ for Other Mental Health Conditions.

The reason is because your current symptoms of anxiety and depression serve as a signal to the VA Rater on the severity of your mental health condition, which ultimately affects your final rating.

The more severe your anxiety disorder symptoms are, the higher the VA rating you’ll receive:

Other Mental Health Conditions DBQ Symptoms List
Other Mental Health Conditions DBQ Symptoms List

VA Ratings for Anxiety in 2021 – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I get VA disability compensation for Anxiety? 

Yes, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will pay veterans with service-connected Anxiety tax free compensation each month. The amount of compensation depends upon your overall VA rating.

Is Anxiety a VA disability condition? 

Yes, Anxiety is a VA disability and can be rated from 0% to 100% depending upon the severity of your symptoms.

Often times, anxiety and depression are underlying symptoms of another mental health condition such as PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder, or Somatic Symptom Disorder.

Due to the legal concept called avoidance of pyramiding, a veteran will only receive one VA rating for a mental health condition.

The VA recognizes Anxiety Disorders as one of 31 mental health conditions that may be related to service, and thus, Anxiety is a VA disability, and is eligible for VA compensation and benefits under the law.

What are the VA disability ratings for Anxiety?

The VA will give you a disability rating based upon the severity of your Anxiety Disorder, specifically related to your level of occupational and social impairment. If you are considered service-connected for Anxiety, you will receive one of six (6) possible VA disability ratings for your mental health condition, broken out as follows: 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%.

In 2021, the average VA disability rating for anxiety is 70%.

Can I receive Special Monthly Compensation for Anxiety?

Yes! VA Special Monthly Compensation under Category S is given if the veteran has at least one condition rated 100% AND one or both of the following:

#1. You are completely and permanently housebound because of his service-connected conditions, meaning that the veteran cannot leave his area of abode (this can include his own home, a hospital ward, or a care facility) at all, and this is expected to be the case for the rest of his life OR

#2. You have another condition rated 60% or group of conditions together rated 60% that are unrelated to the 100% condition. For example, you have GERD rated at 60% and Generalized Anxiety Disorder rated at 100%.

Veterans can get an extra $375.71 each month, tax-free, if you meet the Anxiety Disorder housebound criteria known as SMC-S.

Can Anxiety be Permanent and Total (P&T)? 

Some veterans may receive a permanent and total rating, also known as 100% P&T. If your Anxiety Disorder is not expected to improve, you may obtain the status of permanent and total disability.

Can the VA reduce my disability rating for Anxiety? 

Yes. Unfortunately, sometimes the VA will lower a veteran’s VA rating for anxiety. If that happens to you, obtain new and relevant medical evidence for your anxiety condition, and challenge the VA’s decision to lower your rating.

How do I get a 100% VA disability for Anxiety? 

Your Anxiety must be severe enough to warrant a 100% rating. Many veterans do obtain a 100% rating for Anxiety Disorders using VA Claims Insider’s proven proprietary education-based Coaching and Consulting process, including credible Medical Nexus Letters for Mental Health.

Can I work with a 100% VA Rating for Anxiety? 

Yes, you can! It is a myth that having a mental health condition somehow means you can’t work. In fact, you can work with any anxiety VA rating. Even if you’re rated at 100% for anxiety, there is no requirement or mandate that affects your work.

Will mental health conditions affect my security clearance?

It is a MYTH that having PTSD or any other mental health condition such as anxiety and depression will affect your security clearance. Of course, you’ll need to report it to your security manager and update your SF 86; however, it has no impact on your security clearance (in our experience serving 10,000+ veterans with a mental health condition since 2016).

About the Author

Brian Reese Air Force Veteran 1
Brian Reese Air Force Veteran 1

Brian Reese is one of the world’s leading Veteran Benefits expert, former USAF active duty officer, and founder of VA Claims Insider – “The Most Trusted Name in Education-Based Resources for Veterans.”

His frustration with the 8-step VA disability claims process led him to create “VA Claims Insider,” which provides U.S. military veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned to win their VA disability compensation claim in less time.

Brian is also the CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, which is the world’s largest free searchable database for all things related to DoD disability and VA disability, and has served more than 6,000,000 military members and veterans since its founding in 2013.

He is a former active duty Air Force officer with extensive experience leading hundreds of individuals and multi-functional teams in challenging international environments, including a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011 in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

Brian is a Distinguished Graduate of Management from the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO and he holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, Stillwater, OK, where he was a National Honor Scholar (Top 1% of Graduate School class).

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