Can You Increase Your VA Disability Rating for Gambling “Addiction”?

A recent study showed an alarming link between military service and gambling disorder. Research revealed that the rate of problem gambling among active duty military was 3.5 times higher than among civilians. If you want to learn more about the results of the study, you can find them here. The intent of this article however, is to answer concerns about gambling problem treatment coverage for active and inactive veterans, via compensation through a VA Disability Rating.

For the uninitiated, a VA Disability Rating is a percentage assigned by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to a veteran’s service-connected conditions. The ratings are meant to represent the severity of the conditions. The higher the rating percentage, the greater the financial compensation a veteran receives for the “approved” condition. You (or a loved one) may qualify for VA disability benefits for physical conditions in addition to mental health conditions. It’s the latter category that problem gambling lands within. However, there is more grey area when it comes to gambling, which has traditionally made it a challenge for veterans seeking to leverage their VA Disability Rating for gambling addiction (more aptly known as gambling disorder). There is no “substance” tied to it as with drugs and alcohol abuse, which traditionally limited available funding for support when compared to drug and alcohol addiction.

Is there anything you can do to use and/or increase your VA Disability Rating to get help? Read ahead to learn more about what you can do.

What Veterans Can do to Use or Increase Their VA Disability Rating to Get Help with Gambling Disorder

Understanding Your Rights

An appeal arising from a 1998 Disability Rating decision made by the VA in Fargo, North Dakota has helped set a precedent to provide qualified military personnel with access to compensation for problem gambling treatment. A veteran was initially denied a claim for service connection for a psychiatric illness due to a gambling disorder. After a series of developments the veteran was finally afforded a hearing before the Veterans Law Judge in 2007. The judge determined that the veteran’s gambling disorder was in fact due to his service-connected PTSD. The subsequent Conclusion of Law was that the criteria for service connection for a gambling disorder was met, as was service-connected disability:

“The examiner noted that the veteran had been found to have PTSD associated with his duties as an air traffic controller, and that his alcohol abuse and gambling developed within the context of this highly stressful duty. The examiner further stated that the veteran’s gambling disorder served as an escape and temporary relief from his daily pressures […] The patient’s history and the sequence of developing psychopathology are consistent with the understanding that the patient had developed a stress disorder to the demands of air traffic control and the subsequent development of alcohol dependence and pathological gambling were symptoms of the stress disorder, reflecting psychological strategies for coping with the discomfort. The Board has determined that service connection for a gambling disorder is warranted.

Veterans Affairs

Over the last decade the U.S. Department for Veterans Affairs has made great strides in understanding the connection between PTSD and gambling disorder, and has made a number of resources available to both active and inactive military personnel. In 2020, they even opened an in-patient gambling treatment clinic in Las Vegas. As a result, the concept of leveraging one’s VA Disability Rating for gambling disorder treatment is no longer as foreign as it once was. So what’s next?

Connecting Problem Gambling to PTSD is the Key

Not every claim for service-connected disability coverage for gambling disorder has been as successful as the 2007 judgement. Some are denied. The conditions addressed in the successful case (above) must be present.

You will need to receive a diagnosis for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from an approved doctor. From there, evidential forms need to be completed for PTSD. Completing the required forms will help you build a case for gambling disorder treatment. If problem gambling is a symptom of PTSD, and it can be shown that PTSD is associated with your active duty, the greater your Disability Rating may be, and/or the more likely the DR can be applied to cover gambling disorder treatment. Get access to the required evidential forms provided by the VA right here.

Get Help with Disability Rating Prior to Submission

It’s important to receive a PTSD diagnosis and understand the required forms needed before filing a claim. However, a gap in details can limit your Disability Rating. The monthly compensation difference is significant even at the 10% and 20% ratings:

Disability RatingMonthly payment (in U.S. $)
Source: U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

Compensation rates for veterans with a 30% to 100% Disability Rating are logically more significant, especially if one has dependents. A sole veteran with a 60% DR has a compensation rate of $1,319.65 per month, while one with a spouse may receive a compensation rate of up to $1,634.65 per month.

You can see the importance of maximizing your VA Disability Rating for gambling disorder. However, there are many nuances involved. We have done our best to break them down for you here, but you should still seek additional assistance as the process alone can add to your stress. Thankfully, there are a number of resources available to help veterans increase their Disability Rating. Before filing your claim with the VA, do some homework regarding available resources. A number of organizations and law firms offer free assistance for increasing Disability Ratings. Recommending them is beyond the scope of our behavioral health platform, but we do encourage you to reference these resources and inquire accordingly.

Need Immediate Help?

Are you concerned about your risk of gambling or relapse while waiting for your claim to be approved? Take matters into your own hands today by reaching out to Kindbridge for one-on-one, family, or group treatment for problem gamblers. You may even find that you’re already covered via your existing insurance policy. It certainly doesn’t hurt to check.

Veterans or Concerned Family Members:

CALL +1 (877) 426-4258


Email [email protected]