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Monday, August 25, 2014

Changes in Mental Disorders for Military Disability

Congress changed the Mental Disorders section of the VASRD on August 4, 2014.

The VA has always used the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as reference, and recently the manual’s newest edition, the 5th edition, was published.

In the 5th edition, many of the terms used to describe mental disorders have been changed to reflect the most commonly accepted terms used today in medicine. These changes are meant to present “the most current classification of mental disorders with associated criteria designed to facilitate more reliable diagnosis of these disorders.”

The legislation stated, “VHA clinicians, as well as all mental health providers, have a professional duty as licensed medical practitioners to use the most current medical guidelines, in this case DSM-5. In addition, the Institute of Medicine has encouraged VBA to review the VASRD to ensure that it relies on current medical science.”

To stay true to this manual, the VA updated all their terms in the VASRD to reflect the new terms in the 5th edition. For example, “somatization disorder” is now “somatic symptom disorder”.

Additionally, the VA also removed the mental disorder category titles, like “Anxiety Disorders”, “Psychotic Disorders”, etc., from the VASRD. Not exactly sure why. They are rather useful. Because of this, we’ve chosen to keep them on our site just because of how much easier they make it to find specific conditions. 

With the re-namings and such, the VA also had to change some of the VASRD Codes.

Finally, DSM-5 has officially gotten rid of the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scores. These have never had a huge impact on rating mental disorders, so this really doesn’t change anything, but now they will no longer be used at all.

So, what does all this mean? Basically, some of the mental disorder codes and names of conditions have changed, but the Military Disability Ratings for mental disorders have NOT. So, although the name the condition may have changed, the rating for it has not changed.

How does this affect you? If you already had your ratings before August 4th, this does not affect you one bit. Your codes, names, ratings, etc., will not change at all. If your VA Rating Decision was not made or your PEB Process was not completed before August 4th, then once your ratings are decided, they will automatically reflect these new changes.

Here is a list of all the Mental Disorder codes and how they’ve changed. If a code was deleted or seriously altered, we’ve also included instructions on how those conditions will now be coded.

You can click on the code number to take you to our explanation of the code on our site.

Code 9440: Chronic Adjustment Disorder has not changed.

Code 9416: They got rid of “fugue” and changed the condition name to “Dissociative amnesia and dissociative identity disorder”. Fugue is still rated under this code, however. They just took it out of the title.

Code 9417: Derealization disorders were added in addition to Depersonalization disorders. All derealization disorders are now rated under this code as well.

Code 9421: The title was changed from “somatization disorder” to “somatic symptom disorder”. Somatization disorder is still rated here, they just call it something different.

Code 9422: Was changed from Pain Disorder to any somatic condition that has a definite title, like Pain Disorder, but isn’t officially diagnosed as somatic symptom disorder.

Code 9423: This is pretty much the same as before, but they changed the wording to mean any other somatic condition that is not rated under code 9421 or 9422.

Code 9424: “Functional neurological symptom disorder” was added to the title just to further define it. Doesn’t change anything.

Code 9425: The term “hypochondriasis disorder” was changed to “illness anxiety disorder”. All hypochondriasis is still rated here.

Code 9431: Cyclothymic disorder has not changed.

Code 9432: Bipolar disorder has not changed.

Code 9433: Dysthymic disorder is now called “persistent depressive disorder”. Dysthymic disorder is still rated here.

Code 9434: Major depressive disorder has not changed.

Code 9435: All “other mood disorders” are still rated here, but they changed the word “mood” to “depressive”.

Code 9201: This code was changed to be the single code for all Schizophrenia conditions.

Codes 9202-9205: All these were types of schizophrenia. These codes have been permanently deleted. Now all schizophrenia is rated under code 9201.

Code 9208: Delusional disorder has not changed.

Code 9211: Schizoaffective disorder has not changed.

Code 9210: “Unspecified schizophrenic disorders” was added in addition to “all other psychotic disorders”. It’s basically the exact same thing. Anything that doesn’t fit under another psychotic code goes here.

Code 9300: Delirium has not changed.

Codes 9301-9310, 9312 and 9326: All these codes previously used the term “dementia”. This has been changed to “neurocognitive disorders” to make sure that the code is not just limited to dementia. Dementia is, however, still rated under these codes.

Code 9327: Organic mental disorders was deleted. All of these are now included under the term “neurocognitive disorders” and can be rated under one of the previous codes.

Code 9400: Generalized anxiety disorder has not changed.

Code 9403: “Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)” was added to this code for all phobias.

Code 9404: Obsessive-compulsive disorder has not changed.

Code 9412: Panic disorder and agoraphobia has not changed.

Code 9410: This was changed to “all other specific anxiety disorders” to differentiate it from the new 9413. All other anxiety disorders that have definite titles can be rated here.

Code 9413: This code used to be “neurosis” but is now all other unspecific anxiety disorders. So if the anxiety disorder does not have a definite title, it is rated here. All neuroses are now rated either under code 9410 or 9413.

Code 9411: Post-traumatic stress disorder. The code and name have not changed, but DSM-5 did change how PTSD is diagnosed. The basic idea is that the previous requirements for diagnosing PTSD were too restrictive. The new requirements should now allow more veterans to be officially diagnosed with PTSD. For full details, see our PTSD page.

That’s it. Remember that the ratings for all Mental Disorders have not changed. So even if your code changed, your Military Disability Rating will not.

All these changes are now on our Mental Disorders page, and the discussion on all the Mental Disorders before these changes has been moved to the Historic VASRDs page.


  1. DR. I have been suffering from Anxiety related to my service but also my wife has been in a five year fight for her life battling colon cancer. It has wreaked havoc on my emotional and physical health. I have been going to therapy, it has helped and am on meds for insomnia and panic attacks. In the last three weeks she has had another recurrence and my Anxiety is the worst its been. I have decided to retire after 21 years and move closer to a larger cancer care hospital and leave the added stress of deployments and military life. All these changes sick wife ,retirement, another move have really caused a mix bag of issues on my mental and physical health. So my question is will my Anxiety be service connected?

    1. The answer is yes. You've been in the service for 21 years and the condition was officially diagnosed while you were on active duty, so it will definitely be considered service-connected.