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VA mental health – the 31 symptoms you should know

When a veteran submits a VA mental health claim for disability the VA uses a list of 31 symptoms to determine what rating, if any, should be granted.

Filing a VA Claim Prep Work

Most veterans do not know what these symptoms are, or what to expect when attending a C&P exam for mental health. This article will help you gain a better understanding of what the VA is looking for.


If you are a veteran who is struggling with mental health, and feeling as though you may harm yourself or someone else, please call the Veteran Crisis Line for help or simply dial or text 988.


VA mental health rating chart

When a veteran is granted service connection for a mental health disability the VA will rate the condition between 10% and 100%. Below are some of the symptoms they look for at each rating level.


VA 10% mental health disability rating

A veteran with a mental health disability rating of 10% will have a diagnosis with mild symptoms. These symptoms may only affect your work and daily life when you are under a great deal of stress.


VA 30% mental health disability rating

When rated at 30% for mental health a veterans symptoms will be fairly mild. These symptoms include:

  • Depressed mood

  • Anxiety and/or panic attacks once a week or less.

  • Suspiciousness

  • Chronic sleep impairment

  • Mild memory loss which can look like forgetting names or directions

These symptoms will affect social interaction and efficiency in the work environment on occasion but not daily.

VA 50% mental health disability rating

At the 50% mental health rating symptoms tend to affect daily life even more. The social and occupational impairment tend to affect productivity and reliability. This could look like being passed over for a promotion, or perhaps not even applying for it because of symptoms like :

  • Anxiety/panic attacks more than once a week

  • Flattened affect, which is basically showing little or no emotion

  • Impairment of both short and long term memory

  • Changes in speech, difficulty getting to the point, trailing off, or even rambling on

  • Impaired judgement

  • Difficulty understanding complex commands

  • Impaired abstract thinking

  • Disturbances of motivation or mood

  • Difficulty in establishing and maintaining effective relationship at home and at work



VA 70% mental health disability rating

When a veteran is rated at 70% their mental health is definitely affecting their daily life. They may have difficulty succeeding at work and may struggle to keep friends. At this level a veteran will face struggles in most areas of their life. Veterans will usually have most of the following symptoms at 70%:

  • Suicidal ideations, this language can be confusing to a veteran sometimes. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you are planning to commit suicide, but rather that you think about it.

  • Obsessive rituals, again, this can sound strange, but it can be as simple as a compulsion to check a vehicle multiple times before entering it

  • Issues with speech similar to those at the 50% rating but perhaps more extreme

  • Near constant anxiety or depression that affects the ability to function in the day to day

  • Lack of impulse control, which may present itself in violent outbursts

  • Spatial disorientation can be difficult to understand, but it can be as simple as passing moments of not realizing where you are or why you are there

  • Neglect of personal appearance and hygiene

  • Difficulty adapting to stressful situations, especially at work

  • Difficulty in establishing and maintaining effective relationship at home and at work

VA 100% mental health disability rating

Veterans rated at 100% for mental health are suffering from total social and occupational impairment, which means they are usually unable to work. They are most definitely struggling with more evident symptoms of mental health, such as:

  • Gross impairment of thought processes

  • Gross impairment of communication, beyond what is mentioned at the 50% and 70% levels

  • Persistent delusions or hallucinations, this can be as simple as seeing someone walk by in your house who isn’t there

  • Unable to care for self, such as managing bills or maintaining personal hygiene

  • Confusion about time and location

  • Memory loss of names of those close to you, your own name or your job


VA mental health rating criteria

There are 31 symptoms the VA considers when evaluating a disability claim for mental health. Some of these symptoms are listed above in the ratings, but not all of them. We have created a checklist to help you get a clearer picture of which symptoms you experience.

31 symptoms of mental health

Downloadable Printer Friendly Version - 31 Symptoms below

31 Symptoms print
Download PDF • 531KB

Read the full DBQ used for determination by the VA.


It is important to understand how to communicate the mental health symptoms you experience when discussing your disability claim with the C&P examiner.


We recommend printing this list and using it as an actual checklist. Sit down with a trusted family member or friend and go through each symptom, placing a check mark by those you experience. Give permission to the person reviewing the list with you to be completely honest, they may see things in your behavior that you do not.


Once you have a list of your own mental health symptoms, you can begin to write down some examples of how you experience those symptoms in your everyday life, and how they affect your life in the areas of work and relationships. Our team thoughtfully walks through each step with our Veteran clients. We provide a safe space to speak freely and help you understand how these symptoms may effect your VA disability claim and overall rating.


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This information is made available for educational purposes only. This information is not a substitute for legal or medical advice. United Veteran Benefits Agency makes no guarantee of the outcome on VA rating decisions.


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