If you have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) caused or aggravated by your military service, you deserve VA compensation. This post explains the OCD VA rating and how you can get all the compensation you deserve.
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What started as a repetitive thought or checking something “just one more time” now consumes most of your time. You can’t stop thinking about how many tiles are on the floor and counting them repeatedly. Or you check the windows and doors in your home repeatedly to ensure they’re locked. You may even wash your hands obsessively, worried that germs are everywhere and will get you sick. These are just some of the many common compulsions associated with OCD and how they can affect your life. If you developed OCD as a result of your military service, read on to understand the OCD VA rating and the disorder’s link to other mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder.
In this article about OCD VA ratings:
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that causes obsessive, repetitive thinking. The condition requires a person to perform compulsive behaviors in an attempt to alleviate their anxiety. For example, a person with OCD may repeatedly check to make sure doors and windows are locked before they go to bed at night or be unable to walk up or down steps without counting them. These actions are done to help calm their anxious, intrusive thoughts.
Symptoms of OCD may include:
- Compulsive behavior
- Excessive repetition of words or movements
- Social isolation
- Panic attacks
- Extreme fear
- Intrusive thoughts
Doctors can treat OCD symptoms with a combination of talk therapy and medication. If left untreated, OCD symptoms are likely to worsen, taking up increasingly more time and attention until it becomes nearly impossible to do anything but attend to the disorder.
Veterans and OCD
Experts aren’t certain what causes OCD. They believe genetics, brain abnormalities, and a person’s environment play a role in causing the disorder.
Extreme stressors are also thought to cause the development of OCD. At least one study found that, while OCD in the general population of veterans is relatively low, it’s much higher (more than 5%) in war-zone veterans. The percentage is even higher for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), showing a link between extreme stressors and OCD.
Can PTSD cause OCD?
There is a clear relationship between exposure to traumatic stressors and the development of OCD. One study found up to 70% of veterans with PTSD also have OCD, depending on the sample of veterans studied. Another suggests one-in-four people with PTSD also have OCD.
Since veterans are known as a population prone to this trauma disorder, they’re also at greater risk for developing OCD. The relationship between the two disorders is so strong that researchers developed the phrase “trauma-related OCD” to describe OCD that develops after a PTSD diagnosis.
OCD and other mood and anxiety disorders
PTSD isn’t the only mood or anxiety disorder associated with OCD. OCD also frequently occurs alongside:
If you experience OCD and another disorder and are seeking disability benefits, you may be owed additional compensation from the VA. However, you want to be aware of the VA’s rule on pyramiding. Pyramiding is the VA’s term for trying to receive more than one rating for the same disability or symptoms, and federal regulation prohibits it.
If you have multiple service-connected mental health conditions and are trying to file claims for them, you should understand the pyramiding rule. It means a symptom can’t be rated more than once, even if two different disabilities cause it.
OCD VA rating
Veterans can receive VA disability benefits for OCD that was caused or worsened by military service.
The VA rates OCD using diagnostic code 9404 in the Schedule of Ratings which rates using the criteria in the General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders. Mental health disorders can be rated at 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%, depending on how severe and frequent symptoms are.
|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|
If you think your rating for OCD is too low or your claim is denied, you can appeal the VA’s decision.
VA C&P exam for OCD
You will need to complete a VA compensation and pension (C&P) exam to receive a disability rating for OCD. The VA uses the results of a C&P exam to determine if your disability is related to your time in service and assess your level of disability. This rating will also affect the amount of compensation you receive.
You can expect a lot of questions from a medical professional during a mental health C&P exam. You’ll likely undergo a psychiatric evaluation, 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.
During your C&P exam, you should be ready to speak honestly about your symptoms and tell the medical professional specific details about how they affect your daily life. You should be prepared to tell them about anything you used to be able to do that you can’t do anymore and why. With OCD, this may mean explaining the increasing amount of anxiety you feel and time you spend on compulsions. Don’t overstate your concerns, but make them known and be open and honest. Don’t forget to describe exactly how your military service relates to your condition, even if it seems obvious.
OCD unemployability for veterans who can’t work
If your OCD has progressed, it may make it extremely challenging or impossible for you to work. If you have intrusive, uncontrollable thoughts, it may be difficult to focus on work tasks. If you have a compulsion that requires you to do something like repeatedly check to make sure doors are locked, or your car is in park, productivity may be impossible. If your OCD comes with avoidant behaviors, you may be unable to commute to work or walk into an office full of coworkers. In addition, the need for perfection and impaired decision-making associated with OCD may make it impossible for you to do anything but get dressed for the day or arrange your desk repeatedly.
These OCD-related symptoms don’t take into account how it often occurs with another disorder, which may have symptoms that make work even more challenging or impossible.
Some veterans with OCD can’t keep what the VA calls “substantially gainful employment” because of their service-connected symptoms. If this describes you, you are entitled to total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU). This tax-free monthly benefit ensures you can still support yourself and your family despite their inability to work. Veterans eligible for TDIU receive VA disability compensation at the 100% rate without their condition being rated 100% disabling.
When submitting a TDIU claim for OCD, you can provide evidence along with your medical records that support your claim. This evidence may include lay statements, which are supportive statements from family members or friends who have witnessed how your symptoms impact your life. You also may submit a buddy statement from a fellow service member who can speak to how your OCD symptoms impact you.
To qualify for schedular TDIU, you must typically have:
- At least one service-connected disability rated at least 60% OR
- Two or more service-connected disabilities, with at least one disability ratable at 40% or more, and with a combined rating of 70% or more.
In rare cases where a veteran cannot work but is not eligible for schedular individual unemployability, the VA may award extraschedular TDIU.
“The firm got me to 70%, and I was happy. Individual unemployability was awarded to me and to this day I’m so grateful. My future is no longer bleak. These people work very hard for you.“
R.C., a Navy veteran in HawaiiFacebook review
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Woods and Woods has worked with thousands of veterans nationwide to get them 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 we win.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
It’s no more or less challenging than getting disability benefits from the VA for any other mental health disorder. Remember, every decision VA makes is a case by case basis.
The VA rating for PTSD and OCD depends on the severity of symptoms and how often you experience them. Mental health disorders can be rated at 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%