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Panic Disorder Claims | Veteran Experiencing Episodes of Distress

Legally reviewed by Brendan Garcia , Owner and Lead Attorney

The emotional and psychological impact of active duty military service can be devastating for a veteran. Many former servicemembers suffer from panic disorders as a result of their time in uniform.

If episodes of panic are negatively impacting your quality of life, you may qualify for disability compensation regardless of whether your condition was brought on by constant stressors or a single traumatic incident during active service.

A diligent lawyer from our team can help you pursue panic disorder claims through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for monetary benefits, including filing an appeal or pursuing a Supplemental Claim or a Higher Level Review if your initial application is denied by the VA.

Pursuing Benefits for Panic Disorders

Panic disorders commonly result from active duty military service. If a veteran can connect their current psychological symptoms to their active duty service, they may qualify for benefits under the VA’s disability compensation program.

The effects of a panic disorder can be severe and debilitating. According to the Mayo Clinic, experiencing a panic attack can place great strain on a person’s psyche. Making matters worse, panic attacks can also cause physical distress. Veterans with panic disorders often believe that they are having a heart attack, losing control, or even experiencing suicidal ideations.

Panic disorder claims typically require extensive medical documentation. Both physicians and therapists must attest to how a former servicemember’s current condition affects their day-to-day activities. Their statements will be instrumental in constituting a medical nexus for your VA disability benefits claim.

How VA Disability Ratings Work for Panic Disorder Claims

VA panic disorder claims fall under anxiety disability claims, which are all considered mental health conditions by the VA. For service-related mental conditions, the VA uses a different scale for disability ratings. The range starts at 0% and ends at 100%, but it does not include a 20, 40, or 60% disability rating option.

Unlike physical conditions, mental health conditions like panic disorders do not receive their own individual VA disability ratings. Instead, the VA issues a single rating that encompasses all of the veteran’s service-related and Secondary mental health conditions. 

For example, if you were diagnosed with service-related panic disorder and PTSD, you would still only have one total VA disability rating for your mental health conditions. You’ll need a formal medical diagnosis and you may need to attend a C&P exam to receive a VA disability rating for your service-connected panic disorder.

VA Disability Rating Schedule for Service-Related Panic Disorder

The VA determines the amount of disability benefits you are eligible for based on your disability rating. To assign a disability rating, the VA considers how significant your symptoms are and to what extent they impact your life. Given the variety of claims the VA receives, they need a way to standardize their assessment of what level of benefits a veteran deserves.

To do so, the VA uses a disability rating schedule, where a veteran’s disability has to fit the VA’s description to qualify for the corresponding rating percentage. Here’s a breakdown of the VA’s disability rating schedule for service-connected panic disorders.

Criteria for VA Benefits Based on Disability Ratings

0% disability rating: A medical professional has diagnosed you with panic disorder, but you are able to work and socialize with limited impairment. You don’t regularly take medication for your panic disorder.

10% disability rating: Your panic disorder only becomes an issue for your job performance when you get really stressed. You rarely experience panic disorder symptoms, or they aren’t bad enough to seriously interfere with your life. Alternatively, you regularly take medication to manage your panic disorder.

30% disability rating: Your panic disorder symptoms occasionally hamper your job performance. Overall, you can manage your mental health. However, you may experience some difficulty sleeping and remembering information, depressed mood, and panic attacks. 

50% disability rating: Your service-related panic disorder is interfering with your ability to function and communicate on a more regular basis, both at work and in relationships. You have panic attacks multiple times a week, exhibit reduced cognitive function, mood swings, or a combination of more serious panic disorder symptoms.

70% disability rating: Your panic disorder symptoms are severe and impact most or all areas of your life. At this level, you likely have difficulty caring for yourself, live in a state of panic, exhibit a low stress tolerance, and even struggle with suicidal thoughts. Vets may also display speech and behavioral issues.

100% disability rating: Your panic disorder has become completely debilitating, impairing your judgment, function, and ability to communicate. Vets may behave in erratic or offensive ways, as well as experience hallucinations and memory issues.

If you meet the eligibility requirements for TDIU and you are having trouble holding a steady job due to your panic attacks, you should speak with a VA-accredited attorney. You may qualify for Individual Unemployability, which can mean more VA disability benefits.

Options after Receiving a Denial

Panic disorder claims can be more difficult to prove than those based on physical conditions, and many applicants are denied benefits by the VA for insufficient proof or lack of in-service connection. As a result, claimants often find that they need to pursue appeals to obtain the benefits they need.

Veterans can file a notice of disagreement through the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and submit new evidence to support their panic disorder claim. This appellate process may also involve an in-person hearing before a judge and can be made easier with the help of a skilled lawyer.

A former servicemember who receives a subsequent denial from the Board may ask the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims to examine their case for administrative errors. The Court is responsible for evaluating the process that went into a claimant’s prior denials to determine whether any errors were made.

Ask an Attorney about Panic Disorder Claims

Panic disorders are a significant consequence of active duty military service. Psychologists and therapists recognize that serving in the military can lead to severe and debilitating psychological symptoms. A veteran living with a panic disorder may be entitled to disability benefits from the VA. A VA-accredited attorney can help you connect your current panic disorder to your time spent on active duty.

VetLaw’s dedicated legal team can assist with investigating specific instances that may have resulted in mental trauma, evaluating service records, and presenting evidence of accumulated psychological stress. Our lawyers can even help you pursue an appeal if the VA has denied your panic disorder claim. Contact our team today to see how we can help you.