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BklynVet

Does depression meds affect rating

Question

Hello,

I am rated 70% for mental and after a year of treatment, and seeing it go nowhere, they are recommending meds. I've been on them for a month now and still don't see any results but I have a question.

What if they start kicking in and I am cured, would I still keep the rating? I did some reading and I'm still confused. I read one thing that says that the VA can't change my rating if the medication improves my condition unless it's stated in the rating. They used irritable bowel syndrome as the example. The person had severe but the meds made it moderate. The VA rated him as moderate but since there are no provisions in the rating for meds, he appealed and won.

Another thing I read stated that it goes by symptoms and if the meds help my symptoms get better, then my rating gets lowered.  Then I read something that stated that the rating won't change because it's the meds that are improving the symptoms.

Can someone help me me the confusion?

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4 answers to this question

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NO.  If you look at the criteria for mental health disorders, they are based on SYMPTOMS, not medications, once service connected.  It is your doctors job to prescribe meds, and tweak them.  Some Vets symptoms will respond favorably to meds, while other Veterans symptoms will either not respond at all to meds, or even become worse with meds.  

If you are permanent and total, or have been rated over 5 years, the VA has to show "actual improvement" under ordinary conditions of life to reduce you.  Changing your medications is not a criteria for reduction in rating for mental health disorders.  

38 CFR 3.344 - Stabilization of disability evaluations.

Beta! The text on the eCFR tab represents the unofficial eCFR text at ecfr.gov.
§ 3.344 Stabilization of disability evaluations.

(a) Examination reports indicating improvement. Rating agencies will handle cases affected by change of medical findings or diagnosis, so as to produce the greatest degree of stability of disability evaluations consistent with the laws and Department of Veterans Affairs regulations governing disability compensation and pension. It is essential that the entire record of examinations and the medical-industrial history be reviewed to ascertain whether the recent examination is full and complete, including all special examinations indicated as a result of general examination and the entire case history. This applies to treatment of intercurrent diseases and exacerbations, including hospital reports, bedside examinations, examinations by designated physicians, and examinations in the absence of, or without taking full advantage of, laboratory facilities and the cooperation of specialists in related lines. Examinations less full and complete than those on which payments were authorized or continued will not be used as a basis of reduction. Ratings on account of diseases subject to temporary or episodic improvement, e.g., manic depressive or other psychotic reaction, epilepsy, psychoneurotic reaction, arteriosclerotic heart disease, bronchial asthma, gastric or duodenal ulcer, many skin diseases, etc., will not be reduced on any one examination, except in those instances where all the evidence of record clearly warrants the conclusion that sustained improvement has been demonstrated. Ratings on account of diseases which become comparatively symptom free (findings absent) after prolonged rest, e.g. residuals of phlebitis, arteriosclerotic heart disease, etc., will not be reduced on examinations reflecting the results of bed rest. Moreover, though material improvement in the physical or mental condition is clearly reflected the rating agency will consider whether the evidence makes it reasonably certain that the improvement will be maintained under the ordinary conditions of life. When syphilis of the central nervous system or alcoholic deterioration is diagnosed following a long prior history of psychosis, psychoneurosis, epilepsy, or the like, it is rarely possible to exclude persistence, in masked form, of the preceding innocently acquired manifestations. Rating boards encountering a change of diagnosis will exercise caution in the determination as to whether a change in diagnosis represents no more than a progression of an earlier diagnosis, an error in prior diagnosis or possibly a disease entity independent of the service-connected disability. When the new diagnosis reflects mental deficiency or personality disorder only, the possibility of only temporary remission of a super-imposed psychiatric disease will be borne in mind.

(b) Doubtful cases. If doubt remains, after according due consideration to all the evidence developed by the several items discussed in paragraph (a) of this section, the rating agency will continue the rating in effect, citing the former diagnosis with the new diagnosis in parentheses, and following the appropriate code there will be added the reference “Rating continued pending reexamination ___ months from this date, § 3.344.” The rating agency will determine on the basis of the facts in each individual case whether 18, 24 or 30 months will be allowed to elapse before the reexamination will be made.

(c) Disabilities which are likely to improve. The provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section apply to ratings which have continued for long periods at the same level (5 years or more). They do not apply to disabilities which have not become stabilized and are likely to improve. Reexaminations disclosing improvement, physical or mental, in these disabilities will warrant reduction in rating.

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Thank you all so much for the responses.

L,

I'm not too happy with my treatment so far.  I started with group therapy for a few months and I've been getting individual therapy with a psychologist for the past year.  Now I'm being sent to the psychiatrist for the meds.  The mental issues are secondary to my back pain so as long as my back pain is there, I am unhappy.   I'm asking the doc how long I have to take the meds or see the psych docs and they tell me, 'as long as it takes.'  

They said I have general anxiety disorder, persistent depressive disorder and somatic symptom disorder.  I've only held the rating for a year but it seems like every time I go to the doc, they find a new mental issue to throw in there.  

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Wait a second.........

BroncoVet, I just read your post again....the meds might make things worse?   They didn't tell me this?  What can it do?  

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Another question...and here's where I'm confused.

It goes by symptoms.  Let's say the meds fix me and all my symptoms go away.  Do I lose the rating now.  Also, about the meds.  If the meds fix me, can I stop taking them?  Are they like aspirin?  For example, you have a headache and you take aspirin.  The headache goes away and you stop the aspirin.  Are the psych meds like that? Can I stop once my symptoms go away or am I stuck taking them forever?

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