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The VA rates Alzheimer's as a mental health condition. Here's why it's difficult to earn service-connection

As a result of traumatic events during military service, some Veterans are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's: a progressive disease that starts with mild memory loss and can eventually lead to a loss of control over one's response to their surroundings. Commonly service-connected conditions, such as PTSD or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), can make Veterans more likely to develop this condition.

But how does the VA rate this condition, and how can Veterans get VA disability benefits for Alzheimers? The short answer is that it can be difficult, but we'll tell you more below:

What are symptoms of Alzheimers?

According to the CDC, the first signs of Alzheimers involve memory loss. This can come in a variety of different forms, most commonly appearing in the following ways:

  • Getting lost with directions that were once familiar

  • Misplacing things around the home and being unable to locate them

  • Repeating questions about topics that have already been discussed

  • Changes in behavior, mood, or personality

  • And others

How the VA rates Alzheimers as a mental health condition

Like other conditions, the VA assigns a rating between 0 and 100 which determines the amount of benefits that a Veteran will receive. Alzheimers, however, is rated as a mental health condition – which makes it a little bit harder to prove through documentation. The rating criteria is as follows:


  • A rating of 0% is typically assigned when a Veteran is in the earliest stages of Alzheimers, too early to detect or award benefits for. During this stage, no medication is prescribed, and the condition's impact is very minimal on the Veteran's life.


  • If a rating of 10% is assigned, Alzheimers has been diagnosed and the Veteran is likely taking medication for their conditions. Symptoms, however, remain mild – not often interfering with life function and obligations.


  • When a 30% rating is awarded, the Veteran is typically experiencing early symptoms or has reached the intermediate level of Alzheimers. Behavioral changes, mood swings, sleep disruptions, and interrupted memory abilities are common at this stage. 


  • A 50% rating for Alzheimers means that the Veteran's condition is affecting their daily life on a consistent basis, including challenges meeting their obligations and changes in their social abilities.


  • When a 70% rating is awarded, it means that the Veteran's condition is affecting the majority of their abilities to live a normal life. This stage of Alzheimer's greatly reduces a Veteran's ability to be independent, and also often includes changes in personality.


  • If a 100% rating is awarded, Alzheimers has caused the Veteran to require full-time care and support to manage their condition. The symptoms of disorientation and memory loss are permanent.

If you need supporting documents to prove your condition…

… We can help you with Nexus Letters, DBQs, chart reviews, and more – getting you exactly what you need to be prepared. Start by signing up for a chart review or view our other services here. The VA disability benefits process can be confusing, but there's no need to go through it alone. Our friendly experts are ready to assist you.

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