In order to be considered for disability insurance benefits due to an anxiety disorders you need to have medical proofs that you are diagnosed with anxiety disorders that are severe enough to prevent you from working to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA).
What is anxiety disorder?
Anxiety disorder refers to specific kind of psychiatric disorders involving extreme worries or fears and includes generalized anxiety disorders (GAD), panic attacks and panic disorders, agoraphobia, separation anxiety, social anxiety disorder, selective mutism, and other specific phobias.
Anxiety is normal in every person – In fact, it is our body's way of coping with stress naturally with the increased levels of adrenaline due to the 'flight or fright' response by our neurons when they sense discomfort or danger. However, anxiety disorders are a totally different scenario. These are a group of mental illnesses causing constant and overwhelming fear and anxiety. It is when excessive anxiety causes people to avoid social situations such as workplace or stop going to work altogether or other situations that could trigger or worsen the symptoms.
How the SSA views anxiety disorder?
For people undergoing major anxiety disorders, these feelings are not mere nervousness but are rather overwhelming feelings of fear and panic that could easily be triggered by day-to-day events such as ADHD, PTSD, etc.
The SSA recognizes various types of anxiety disorders based on general descriptions evaluated by the doctors. These include:
- -General anxiety disorder: this includes excessive or unrealistic worry or tension with little or no reason at all;
- -Agoraphobia: this involves having an intense fear of being involved in situations with little room for easy escapes or help in the case of an emergency. For instance, feeling panic in public transportation or crowded places.
- -Panic disorder: the feeling of sudden or intense fear of things that actually trigger your panic attack. This may involve feeling like you're breaking a sweat, are having extreme chest pain or having a pounding heartbeat or heart palpitations – sometimes it may also involve having sensations similar to a heart attack or feelings of choking;
- -Social anxiety disorder: this is also called social phobia, involving feelings of overwhelming worry and self consciousness about everyday social situations. People with social anxiety may have extreme fears of being judged or ridiculed by others such as their peers or colleagues;
- -Specific phobias: this involves having fear of a specific situation or object such as heights or flying. This fear is beyond normal levels of fears and may involve risk of potential self harm or dangerous reactions when exposed to such situations;
- -Medication induced anxiety: this is the third most common form of anxiety disorders. It involves a trigger of symptoms due to the use of certain medications, illegal drugs or withdrawal from certain drugs;
Mental and emotional disabilities can have as much limiting affects on a person's daily functioning levels as any other physical disabilities. Fortunately, the SSA recognizes this fact and therefore, has included anxiety disorders in its list in Blue Book of Impairments. The SSA has included anxiety disorders in its Section 12.06 in the list of Mental Impairments in the Blue Book of Impairments.
Whether you will qualify for SSDI due to anxiety disorder will depend on various factors.
Qualifying for SSDI due to Anxiety Disorders
When applying for SSDI benefits for anxiety disorders, you must have medical documentation proving the following:
General Anxiety Symptoms
- -Having symptoms of restlessness with three of the following four symptoms:
- a)Vigilance and scanning;
- b)Motor tension;
- c)Autonomic hyperactivity;
- d)Apprehensive expectation;
- -Proof of getting easily fatigued due to anxiety. This may involve showing ETT tests or other relevant tests prescribed by the doctor;
- -Having trouble concentrating on the task at hand;
- -Irritability or having recurrent panic attacks characterized by sudden, unpredictable episodes of intense fear, terror, apprehension and a sense of impending doom that happens frequently or at least once a week;
- -Muscle tension;
- -Disturbances in sleeping patterns;
- -Recurrence of compulsions or obsessions that cause marked distress;
- -Recurring intrusive remembrances of a traumatic experience that causes marked distress;
- -Constant irrational fear or objects, activity or situations that have a direct result of wanting to avoid that object, activity or situation;
Panic disorders or Agoraphobia may be characterized by one or more of the following:
- -Panic attacks followed by a persistent concern or worry about additional panic attacks or their consequences; or
- -Disproportionate fear or anxiety about at least two different situations (for example, using public transportation, being in a crowd, being in a line, being outside of your home, being in open spaces);
OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder evaluated through the following symptoms:
- -Repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety; or
- -Involuntary, time-consuming preoccupation with intrusive, unwanted thoughts;
If your condition qualifies for any of the symptoms mentioned above you have a chance of qualifying for getting approved for benefits for anxiety disorder. However, you will have to proof to the SSA that your condition is disabling enough to prevent you from working to earn a livelihood below the threshold income or the lowest SSDI monthly payments (whichever is higher). This includes:
*Having a disorder listing on the level "persistent and serious" with medical documentation proving that you have a history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least 2 years. Also, you need to have an evidence that:
1) Medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or a highly structured setting(s) that is ongoing and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of your mental disorder; and
2) Marginal adjustment, that is, you have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life;
Getting the right disability guidance such as mentioned above is only half of the process. The other half is being able to present your case properly. It does not need to be stressed that the key to winning a disability benefits application or an appeals process requires the case to be presented properly with all of the details of medical and non-medical documentation mentioned properly. Since a person with an anxiety disorder may already have too much on their plates, taking matters into their own hands or letting an unprofessional do the job of filing a disability application or an appeals process may mean getting rejected for SSDI benefits by the SSA. However, you do not need to worry.
If you or your loved one with anxiety disorder needs help filing for disability benefits or an appeals process, you can seek counsel of our professional disability attorneys to win your SSDI benefits.