Perhaps no type of claim in Veteran’s Law is more under reported than the depression that is due to the physical problems the veteran suffered in service. Doctors tell us more than 90% of people that have serious chronic pain have depression. If a veteran has depression, which is the result of of the chronic pain of the service connected medical problem, that depression should also be service connected. Sometimes the depression rating can be higher than the rating for the original physical injury. Let me give you an example:
A veteran has a 30% service connected rating for a back problem that developed in service. The pain from the back problem causes him problems at work and at home. Eventually, shame and frustration breaks him down and he winds up hospitalized due to depression. His 30% rating for his back would only pay him $376 per month. But, it is possible to add his 50% rating for his depression and he would now be entitled to about $1,250 per month. In addition, during the time of the hospitalization, it is possible that he would be entitled to a 100% rating for about $2,700 per month.
Many veterans have lived with chronic pain for so long they do not even realize it is causing them depression. Sometimes their families don’t realize it either because the veteran has had pain as long as they can remember. They don’t even remember when the veteran was a “normal” person.
Veterans that have serious chronic pain should be examined by a psychologist or psychiatrist. This will not only help the veteran obtain benefits he deserves but more importantly will give the veteran mental tools he needs to deal with the depression. The psychologist can also help the family understand the veteran and make the situation better for everyone.