Veterans who suffer from panic attacks often experience sudden feelings of apprehension, terror, nervousness, and/or fear. These symptoms can occur unexpectedly for no reason, or because of a known “stressor,” with an attack usually peaking within the first 10 minutes.

panic_attackOften, the symptoms are so extreme that an entire day can be disrupted, and individuals may feel stressed out or “keyed up” for many hours following the attack.

Your Questions Answered About Panic Attacks

If you’re a veteran diagnosed with service-connected panic disorder, you may have many questions about what causes this condition, how to cope with it, and if you can get benefits from The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Here are answers to frequently asked questions about panic attacks

What mental illnesses qualify for VA benefits, and are panic attacks included?

If you can provide the VA with a diagnosis in one of the following categories and give evidence that shows your mental illness is service-connected, you may be eligible for benefits. These categories include:

  • Anxiety—this includes post-traumatic stress disorder and panic disorder. 
  • Amnesia
  • Mood disorders
  • Chronic adjustment disorder
  • Cognitive disorders
  • Psychotic disorders including schizophrenia
  • Somatoform disorders, including mental disorders that present as unexplained physical ailments
  • Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia

What if my panic attacks were a preexisting condition? 

If you were diagnosed with panic disorder before you went into the military, you could qualify for VA benefits if you can prove that your service worsened or aggravated your condition beyond what would be considered its normal progression.

If the VA agrees that your mental illness has worsened due to your military service, it will classify your condition as “service-connection based on aggravation by such service.”

What does it mean if I receive a 0 percent rating for my panic disorder?

Your panic disorder is rated by the VA based on its severity. If your mental illness impacts your daily life and interferes with your ability to manage a normal routine, the VA gives you a higher rating. For example, if you receive a rating of 100 percent, the VA believes you have complete and total impairment on the job and in a social environment.

However, if you receive a 0 percent rating, the VA still recognizes your mental illness but believes your symptoms don’t interfere with work or social functioning, and you don’t require ongoing medication. While you won’t receive financial benefits for this rating, you may be eligible for health care. 

Contact Cuddigan Law

If you’re a veteran with service-connected panic attacks, contact Cuddigan Law. Our attorneys have been supporting veterans for years, and we’ll carefully examine your case and advise you on the best approach for receiving the maximum in disability benefits. Call us today.


Timothy J. Cuddigan (Founder - Retired)
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Omaha Social Security and Veterans Disability Lawyer With Over 40 Years Experience