Is Anxiety A Disability?

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  • Is Anxiety A Disability?

The short answer is yes. Anxiety is considered a disability when an applicant provides evidence that their disorder has an adverse impact on their daily life. Meeting the medical requirements specified by the SSA Blue Book and having enough work credits can make you eligible for disability benefits for anxiety.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), psychiatric disabilities significantly limit one or more major life activities. To get disability, the impairment must have limited ability to carry on normal daily living.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is the body’s response to stress. Anxiety is a mental health diagnosis that is on the rise and can lead to disability. Many people speak about the importance of mental health and eliminating the stigma that is in link with these conditions. Unfortunately, the focus on making mental health a priority continues to be lacking. Typically, people devote more attention to their physical health than mental health.

Getting Disability for AnxietyWhen asked to define the term anxiety, you might describe it as typical stress associated with daily life. One example of anxiety is when you are giving a presentation for the first time, you may experience feeling anxious. Anxiety can lead to thought spirals that worsen the condition over time. 

If left untreated, anxiety can lead to severe illness. When it comes to disability benefits for anxiety, allowance is given based on many factors. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will carefully review all the information contained in the application before approving aid.

Common Symptoms of Anxiety

Many serious health conditions are prevalent today. They include cardiovascular diseases, neurological problems, obesity, hormonal irregularities, and many more. Surprisingly, many people are still unaware that anxiety can be a root cause or significant contributor to many of these ailments. 

Symptoms of anxiety may include:

  • Feeling nervous or restless
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Having a sense of impending danger or panic 
  • Increased heart rate
  • Constant worrying
  • Trouble concentrating 
  • Insomnia
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) issues
  • Rapid breathing 
  • Having the urge to avoid things and situations that trigger anxiety

Stress and anxiety affect a large percentage of today’s population and play a significant role in overall health. Some people may even experience more than one type of anxiety disorder.

Common Types of Anxiety

Some of the significant types of anxiety that can eventually lead to severe impairment include:

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – OCD is one of the most common anxiety disorders. A person with OCD may worry incessantly about things (obsessions), and perform repetitive behaviors out of their own control (compulsions), such as repeatedly washing hands, locking doors, checking emails, etc. 
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Another common anxiety disorder, people experiencing generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) may be under a constant state of anxiety due to no event in particular. With GAD, individuals may experience physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, headaches, lack of focus, and more.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – PTSD is a mental disorder where an individual has experienced severe trauma. This is one of the most common cases involving Social Security disability for anxiety.
  • Panic Disorder – Panic disorder involves panic attacks, which are intense bouts of severe anxiety that can lead to a loss of general functioning. A panic disorder can create severe reactions that, when triggered, can be highly volatile and unpredictable. People with panic disorder may suffer from co-occurring depression.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder or Social Phobia – With this disorder, symptoms manifest with socializing and thinking about socializing. A large percentage of disability benefit applications for anxiety are related to specific fears or phobias such as that involved with social interaction. 
  • Anxiety attacks – Anxiety attacks occur in some people when they are experiencing a high level of stress. They can become challenging to manage for the sufferer as well as family members.

Patients dealing with the anxiety-related problems mentioned might experience severe symptoms. Anxiety can show up at any point in one’s life. When an individual’s symptoms don’t respond well to treatment, they may qualify for disability benefits for anxiety.

Can You Get Disability for Anxiety?

Anxiety disorders including panic attacks, phobias, PTSD, and OCD may be considered disabilities. An individual may qualify for disability for anxiety disorder if they prove that their disability is making it impossible for them to work.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) categorizes anxiety disorders under section 12.06 in the Blue Book. Section 12 covers mental disorders. It can often be challenging to qualify for Social security Disability insurance (SSDI) based on an anxiety disorder diagnosis. The medical evidence backing the diagnosis is subjective and based on criteria that can be difficult to document.

These criteria might include behaviors or feelings that take place outside of the health professional’s office. The patient typically reports their symptoms to the healthcare professional.

Eligibility Criteria for Anxiety

To successfully apply for disability for anxiety, you will need to provide a complete medical history.

The medical history needs to include the past and current treatment history of qualified mental and physical health professionals. This step plays a crucial role in substantiating the persistent or recurrent nature of the anxiety disorder.  

Have you been confused about whether or not your condition will qualify? The listing in the Social Security Administration Blue Book can provide you with additional information. Anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive disorders can be found in section 12.06.

What symptoms qualify for anxiety disability?

The listing mentions that for a person to qualify for SSDI or SSI for anxiety, their symptoms must include at least one of the following:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Feeling easily fatigued
  • Insomnia

Beyond the symptoms above, to be eligible, one also needs to meet specific functional criteria. This is important in demonstrating that the applicant suffers from a loss of specific capabilities that limit functioning. Generally, someone seeking anxiety disability payment should have a severe limitation in at least one of the following areas and a marked limitation in two of these areas:

  • Communicating with others and the ability to behave in a socially acceptable manner
  • Remembering, understanding, and applying information: This includes the ability to learn new skills, understand instructions, concentrate, use judgment in decision making, apply new knowledge to ongoing tasks, or maintain pace in completing specific tasks.
  • Managing and adapting to daily skills: This includes practical life skills such as shopping, dressing, paying bills, and practicing good hygiene.

What is a medical vocational allowance?

Many of the anxiety disability symptoms may match the listing. However, in some cases, they won’t demonstrate a good match. In case the SSA finds that the symptoms do not match with the Blue Book, they will consider other options.

Some can receive their disability through a medical-vocational allowance. The medical-vocational allowance will act as proof that you are not fit enough to work. Factors like one’s work history, age, or functional capacity are taken into consideration to create medical-vocational determinations.

How to get a disability for anxiety?

The SSA determines disability due to anxiety through a strict procedure. The Social Security Administration officials will check all the reported symptoms along with many other details.

Anxiety is a mental disorder and therefore, more difficult to prove than many physical conditions. Getting SSDI benefits for anxiety can be a daunting task, especially when you are not aware of the process that the SSA follows. All medical evidence plays a crucial role in the process.

What happens after completion of the claim?

A claim is assigned to an expert for review, which may require you to take part in an interview. The interview might also include mental health sessions. These sessions would be conducted by a psychiatrist that is approved by the SSA.

The duration of the process will differ based on your unique case. Qualifying for benefits can be difficult at times and the specifics of the anxiety condition will be different for everyone. An experienced disability lawyer can help make your application process go more smoothly.


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