Some anxiety disorders are considered as disabilities by the Social Security Administration for the purposes of granting benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program. The anxiety disorders covered include panic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and some phobias.
Individuals suffering from these anxiety disorders may be eligible to receive SSDI benefits if they can show that their anxiety is likely to continue for a year or more, and that it prevents them from engaging in any sort of meaningful, lucrative work.
An individual seeking SSDI benefits must be able to prove that his or her anxiety disorder meets the criteria set down by the Social Security Administration.
How Is Anxiety Defined for SSDI Purposes?
Disability for anxiety is defined as a severe condition in which a person experiences feelings of tension, apprehension, or uneasiness. People who are completely disabled based on anxiety disorder often experience overwhelming feelings of terror. These feelings are provoked by situations or events that occur in day-to-day life.
What Are the Common Types of Anxiety Disorders?
Health care professionals diagnose five fundamental types of anxiety disorders:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder: In General Anxiety Disorder, a person faces tension about a particular situation. When a person has been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, he or she must have experienced this for at least 6 months.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): In Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, a person undertakes repetitive or ritualistic behavior or motions which are performed to reduce the symptoms of anxiety including impulses and recurrent thoughts.
- Panic Disorder: In Panic Disorder a person experiences frequent anxiety attacks that extend for 10 minutes without any identifiable cause.
- Phobias: Phobias characterized by irrational, involuntary fears of facing any common situation, place, or event.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): In PTSD, a person faces severe symptoms such as recurring thoughts of some past event. The fundamental cause of PTSD is when a person witnesses a traumatic event or is a part of some shocking event.
Can an Applicant Get A Disability Rating and Receive SSDI for Anxiety?
When a person meets all the requirements of an anxiety disorder listed as potentially disabling by the SSA, he or she may be considered disabled for the purposes of receiving SSDI. The Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments, listing 12.06 describes the potential disabilities that are based on anxiety disorders.
To qualify for SSDI, a patient must have a diagnosis from a doctor. That diagnosis must include three or more of the following symptoms in order to meet the requirements of the listing.
- Difficulty in concentrating;
- Muscle tension;
- Being tired easily;
- Sleep disturbance.
Along with three of the above-mentioned symptoms in order to be rated as having disability for anxiety for SSDI purposes, a person must also prove that the condition prevents the applicant from performing any work which might reasonably be found in the local area. Evidence that might be considered in making such a determination can focus on work-related mental abilities, and an individual suffering from anxiety disorders may qualify if they can demonstrate a marked limitation in any one of the following areas:
- A decline in the capability to memorize information, understand things, and use relevant information;
- A decline in capacity to make decisions based on careful judgment;
- A decline in the ability to communicate with other people in socially appropriate ways;
- A decline in the ability to focus while performing tasks or in the capability to complete tasks.
Different standards apply to those people who are residing in some protective situation or who are undergoing therapy or any other psychological support.
How Can an Applicant Receive Social Security Disability Benefits for Anxiety?
In cases of anxiety disorders, there may be situations where the functional capabilities of an individual seem better in controlled settings than they do in real-life work situations. In work situations, a person may be surrounded by more stress and increased demands than elsewhere.
According to the theory of Social Security, there may be situations where the functional capabilities of an individual would appear in a better way as compared to real-life situations. In real-life situations, a person may be surrounded by stress and increasing demands. Therefore, when a person’s disorder has been documented by a healthcare professional as extreme and serious for at least a year, then he or she may qualify for disability benefits for anxiety. An applicant must also be able to show that there is minimal capacity to adapt to any changes, or to hold meaningful employment of any sort in the local area.
If the SSA initially finds that the applicant’s anxiety illness is not extreme and does not meet the requirements mentioned in listing 12.06, then the application will be given further review. The review will investigate the limitations that prevent the applicant from working. In such cases, SSA gives a mental residual functional capacity test (MRFC). This should determine what type of work, if any, can be performed by the applicant, given the diagnosis of anxiety disorder.
A person suffering from anxiety disorder may be unable to perform their usual job or any other complicated task. However, if the applicant can perform simple tasks which can be learned in a month or less. In that case, the applicant may be considered as able to work, and not disabled, at any simple jobs available. For SSA to grant Social Security disability for anxiety, an applicant’s MRFC must restrict them from doing their usual job, and any other job.
How Can An Attorney Assist You With An Application for Disability Benefits for Anxiety?
If you are suffering from anxiety disorders, and are uncertain whether your condition is severe enough for you to qualify for SSDI or SSI income, then a consultation with an experienced lawyer may be able to assist you in making a decision. If you decide to apply after consulting with an attorney, then a diligent lawyer can assist you in filing the application with the SSA.
In preparing an application, good medical evidence is also important. The application form must include both a description and a history of the episodes of your anxiety disorder, whether it be OCD, PTSD, or phobias, the frequency of episodes, and how they affect your capability to work. In case an individual suffers from both an anxiety disorder and a physical impairment, then a lawyer can help in filing a disability claim for both. If an initial claim is denied, then a lawyer can, after consultation, file your appeal.
When someone is unable to perform any work owing to anxiety disorder then he or she may be entitled to Social Security Disability Benefits. However, proving disability claims before the Social Security Administration is a difficult and complicated process. Therefore, it may be prudent for an applicant to contact a Philadelphia Disability Lawyer who can help an applicant in gathering and presenting the evidence to the Social Security Administration.
A lawyer will be able to guide you in gathering the proper documentation that can support your disability claim. Such evidence, along with an opinion by a medical professional is essential, given the subjective nature of anxiety disorder.