SSDI & Anxiety Disorder Disability
Call an Experienced Attorney Familiar with SSDI Benefits for Generalized Anxiety
When we talk about disabilities and disability benefits, most people immediately think of their physical capabilities. However, our mental and emotional capabilities are just as vital to our ability to make a living. When people are psychologically unable to cope with the rigors of working, there’s no shame in that; like anyone else with a disability, they deserve financial relief from Social Security.
But can you get disability for anxiety and panic attacks? Does social anxiety or depression ‘count’ as a disability? Can you get SSDI benefits for an anxiety disorder? These are good questions our lawyers answer below.
The first question to answer is this: do you have an anxiety disorder?
- Do you tend to worry about events in your life even if others believe that there is no reason for you to worry?
- Do daily activities make you anxious?
- Are you stuck with the feeling that things will always go bad and will never improve for you?
These may be signs of a generalized anxiety disorder, and you may qualify for SSDI benefits as a result.
Who Suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorders?
While we all worry about the health of their loved ones, how we will pay our bills or other daily problems in our lives, some people who suffer from a generalized anxiety disorder worry excessively about these problems. Individuals suffering from generalized anxiety disorder may become extremely worried about their daily problems, even when others believe that there is little or no reason for them to worry.
Individuals suffering from a generalized anxiety disorder may become so worried and anxious about their daily responsibilities and activities that they become overwhelmed and struggle to get through the day. Sometimes, the worry about daily responsibilities and activities may convince them that their problems will never improve and never get better.
When Do Symptoms of a Generalized Anxiety Disorder Develop?
Generalized anxiety disorders do not always develop in adulthood. The symptoms can start when you're a child, during teen years, or even in young adulthood. It may take a significant amount of time for a doctor or mental health professional to properly diagnose a generalized anxiety disorder. At times, medical providers may be more focused on the individual symptoms related to the generalized anxiety disorder, such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, stomach upset or headaches - but they don't always make the connection to a generalized anxiety disorder and the initial diagnosis might be delayed.
Medical professionals are not sure what causes a person to suffer from a generalized anxiety disorder. In some cases, other family members may suffer from the same type of anxiety disorder. In other cases, it may be an individual diagnosis.
What Symptoms Are Associated with a Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
While a mental health diagnosis is specific to each individual, some of the common symptoms of a generalized anxiety disorder include:
- Excessive worry about everyday situation, problems and responsibilities.
- Difficulty controlling their worry.
- Finding it difficult to relax.
- Struggling to maintain attention and concentration.
- Reporting “panic attacks” or "nerves”.
- Experiencing difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep because of worry or “racing thoughts”.
- Suffering from daily fatigue.
- Reporting physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches or other physical pain.
- Experiencing changes in mood, including irritability.
If you believe that you suffer from some of or all the above symptoms, it is important to talk to your medical providers and seek help as soon as possible. Your medical provider may refer you to a mental health specialist to discuss your symptoms or she/her may want to make sure that there is no unrelated physical impairment causing your symptoms. In most cases, generalized anxiety disorder is treated by a mental health professional, including medication, therapy or both.
It will be important to work with your medical providers and with your mental health professionals to determine your best treatment options.
Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Severe Anxiety a Disability?
Legally speaking, yes; some forms of generalized anxiety disorder can be considered a disability. The law that governs Social Security benefits defines a disability as the "inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months." In other words, a disability includes mental impairments that make you unable to do your job or find enough employment to support yourself. The impairment must be long-term (i.e., longer than 12 months) or potentially fatal.
Generalized anxiety disorder and other forms of severe anxiety are often long-term, can be diagnosed by a doctor, and can limit someone from engaging in substantial gainful activity. As long as your condition meets those requirements, it will considered a disability according to Social Security law.
Does an Anxiety Disorder Qualify Me for Social Security Disability Benefits?
Many people suffer from some of the symptoms related to an anxiety disorder. However, most people's real question is simple: can you get disability for anxiety and panic attacks? The straightforward answer is yes, but only under certain conditions.
If you experience symptoms that are so severe that your ability to care for yourself or your ability to function at work is severely affected, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits or Supplemental Security Income benefits.To be eligible for SSDI benefits or SSI benefits, you must be able to present medical evidence that demonstrates you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, that your anxiety disorder is “severe” and, as a result of your anxiety disorder, you have been unable to work for at least 12 months or your symptoms are so severe that it is likely that you will not be able to return to work for at least 12 months.
To help the Social Security Administration understand the severity of your Anxiety Disorder, you should secure your treatment records, the results of any psychological and or cognitive testing, a complete list of your medications, and any treatment notes that discuss the severity of your symptoms and how long those symptoms have lasted.
Fact:The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers anxiety disorders under Section 12.06 of the Blue Book, which covers Mental Disorders.
Applying for SSDI/SSI Benefits for Anxiety Disorders
If you apply for disability benefits related to an anxiety disorder, the Social Security Administration will review your review your disorder under the “Adult Listings,” which is a set of criterial that measures that severity of your anxiety and may qualify you for benefits.
This is a strict test. To qualify for benefits under the “Adult Listings,” you must meet the conditions of either Paragraphs A and B below, OR the conditions of Paragraphs A and C below. This is not a “maybe” test; all the required conditions must be met to qualify for benefits.
A: You must have medical documentation of one of the following:
- Constant generalized anxiety, with three of the following four symptoms: motor tension, vigilance and scanning, autonomic hyperactivity, or apprehensive expectation.
- Constant irrational fear of a situation, object, or activity that results in a significant desire to avoid the situation, object, or activity.
- Recurring severe panic attacks that are characterized by sudden unpredictable episodes of intense fear, apprehension, terror, and a sense of impending doom that happen at least once a week.
- Recurrent compulsions or obsessions that cause marked distress.
- Recurring intrusive remembrances of a traumatic experience that causes marked distress.
B: The condition under Paragraph A must result in at least two of the following:
- Marked problems maintaining concentration.
- Marked difficulties with persistence, or pace.
- Repeated periods of decompensation, each of extended duration.
- Marked difficulties maintaining social functioning; or restriction of routine activities of daily life.
C: The conditions described in Paragraph A must result in your total inability to function independently outside your home.
If your anxiety disorder does not meet the level of severity to qualify for benefits under the “Adult Listing,” you may qualify for benefits because of your age and or the totality of your symptoms. Speak with an attorney to learn more.
If you believe that you are suffering from a generalized anxiety disorder and your symptoms prevent you from working, contact Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC to discuss your symptoms and how you may be eligible for SSDI benefits for generalized anxiety disorder.