Many veterans experience schizophrenia, a mental health disorder that can often be severe. VA disability benefits for schizophrenia are available to those who qualify. This post explains more about the schizophrenia VA rating and what to expect when applying for disability for the condition.
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In this article about VA benefits for schizophrenia:
Whether you received a schizophrenia diagnosis before, during, or after your military service, it’s undoubtedly a difficult condition to live with. Schizophrenia can severely disrupt your life and make it difficult for you to function day-to-day, let alone work. If your military service caused schizophrenia or worsened your symptoms, you deserve VA disability benefits and may be eligible.
Schizophrenia is a serious, chronic mental health disorder that impacts how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. Experts don’t fully understand what causes schizophrenia, but it’s thought to involve genetics, environment, and brain chemistry or structure. It’s generally diagnosed in a person’s late teens or early adulthood. People who experience schizophrenia may seem like they’re out of touch with reality.
Symptoms of schizophrenia include:
- Social withdrawal
- Inability to cry or express joy
- Odd or irrational statements
- Hostility or suspiciousness
- Inappropriate laughter or crying
- Inability to concentrate
- Deterioration of personal hygiene
- Extreme reaction to criticism
- Flat, expressionless gaze
- Oversleeping or insomnia
- Strange use of words or way of speaking
Schizophrenia and other mental health conditions are more common in veterans, but there’s no clear answer as to why. Some experts think it’s because of factors including:
Schizophrenia can’t be cured but can be effectively treated with medications and therapy. Without treatment, schizophrenia symptoms are likely to worsen and can become debilitating.
Schizophrenia vs. schizoaffective disorder
While they may sound alike, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder aren’t the same. They are two different mental health disorders with some symptoms in common. The difference between the two disorders is psychosis as a primary symptom. Schizoaffective disorder is predominantly a mood disorder with some symptoms of psychosis. Schizophrenia is primarily a psychotic disorder, so a person with schizophrenia is likely to seem less in touch with reality. Veterans with service-connected schizoaffective disorder are also eligible for VA benefits.
Schizophrenia VA rating
Veterans can receive VA disability benefits for schizophrenia that was caused or worsened by military service.
The VA rates schizophrenia with diagnostic code 9201 for mental health disorders in the Schedule of Ratings. Schizophrenia can be rated at 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%, depending on the severity of the symptoms.
|Description||VA rating||Monthly payment (veteran only)|
|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%||$3,621.95|
|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%||$1,663.06|
|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%||$1,041.82|
|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%||$508.05|
|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%||$165.92|
|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%||None|
Schizophrenia C&P exam
To receive a schizophrenia VA rating and get disability compensation for the condition, you must be able to service connect it. You can prove this service connection if you already had a schizophrenia diagnosis when you enlisted, and your service aggravated the symptoms, or if you were diagnosed during or after service.
You’ll need to be prepared to complete a mental health compensation and pension (C&P) exam. The exam assesses your level of disability and whether it is related to your time in service. The VA uses the information from the exam to determine how severe your condition is and determine your disability rating. The amount of compensation you receive depends on your diagnosis and overall disability rating.
You can expect a lot of questions from a medical professional during a C&P exam. You should be ready to speak honestly about your symptoms and how they affect your life. You’ll likely undergo a psychiatric evaluation for a mental health condition, where they’ll ask you about your personal history and current symptoms. They want to know how your mental health concerns impact your daily life.
If you’ve been denied benefits for schizophrenia or you think you received an inaccurate rating from the VA that doesn’t fully consider your symptoms, you can appeal the decision.
Downloadable C&P Exam Preparation Checklist
Click the image to download or print your own copy of our exam checklist or read more here.
Unemployability for schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a life-changing illness that renders many veterans unable to work. While some veterans may have mild symptoms and be able to better manage their condition, many diagnosed with schizophrenia struggle to hold down a job. Symptoms like difficulty with concentration, memory, and socialization may make all forms of work impossible. Individuals with schizophrenia are also more likely to experience depression and issues with fatigue, which may further complicate a veteran’s ability to work.
Veterans with schizophrenia who can’t keep what the VA calls “substantially gainful employment” because of the condition are entitled to total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU). This tax-free monthly benefit ensures those veterans can still support themselves and their families without working. Veterans who are eligible for TDIU receive VA disability compensation at the 100% level without their condition being rated at 100% disabling.
How our VA disability lawyers can help
Woods and Woods has helped veterans nationwide get the VA benefits they deserve. Call us for a free case evaluation to find out how we can help. If we take your case, you only pay us a percentage of your back pay if you win.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Yes, you can receive VA disability benefits for schizophrenia if you can prove that your service caused the conditions or worsened its symptoms.
Yes, you can receive total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU) benefits for schizophrenia if the symptoms are so severe that you’re unable to work gainfully.