For most of us, occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. It lasts for a while and we get over it or shake it off and go on with life.
But if the anxiety you feel is so severe that it prevents you from living and working normally every day, you may want to look into whether or not you qualify for disability through Social Security.
An anxiety disorder is one in which you are paralyzed by a constant fear, tension, apprehension and/or uneasiness. These abnormally strong feelings are provoked by ordinary, everyday life events that cause crippling fear and terror over the most mundane things. The anxiety significantly interferes with your daily activities such as relationships, social activities and employment. Many people won’t leave home due to the severity of the symptoms.
To obtain disability benefits for anxiety and anxiety related disorders, the SSA offers two pathways to have your claim approved. You can attempt to prove that your condition is in their Listings of Impairments for mental illness, or you can use their Five Step Sequential Process to show that, even if they haven’t defined your issue yet, it is serious enough to be considered the equivalent of one of the disabilities they have defined.
Let’s start with matching anxiety-related disorders in the Listings of Impairments.
Specific Requirements of SSA Listing 12.06
The SSA defines anxiety-related disorders as any condition where “anxiety is either the predominant disturbance or it is experienced if the individual attempts to master symptoms.” This includes people who become anxious when they fight against compulsions or when they attempt to confront the object responsible for their phobia.
Severity requirements to qualify for this listing are broken into three categories labeled A, B, and C. You either have to meet both A and B or both A and C:
1. Findings of one of the below that are medically documented:
- Generalized persistent anxiety that includes motor tension, autonomic hyperactivity, apprehensive expectation, or scanning and vigilance (must display 3 out of 4)
- Persistent irrational fear for and avoidance of a specific situation, activity, or object
- Panic attacks accompanied by intense terror that occur at least weekly
- Marked distress brought on by recurring compulsions or obsessions
- Market distress brought on by recurring, intrusive recollections of a trauma
2. Those findings result in:
- An inability to fully engage in the activities of daily living
- An inability to function socially
- An inability to persist or concentrate
- Personality disturbances
3. These prevent you from functioning outside your home without help
Unfortunately, there are no medical tests available that the SSA currently accepts to support these findings, so you need to provide a well-documented history. This can include medical and treatment records, performance evaluations from your current and/or last job, statements from family and friends about how your condition affects you, as well as your own journal documenting your illness.
If you don’t have this kind of documentation available, or if the records you have just don’t pass muster, there’s still another option. Prove the Equivalency of Your Condition
It’s not the end of the road if the SSA isn’t willing to say that your anxiety disorder meets the requirements of their listing. By using the Five Step Sequential Process, you still have the opportunity to win your claim and get the benefits you need. All you have to do is show that your condition is equivalent to what they have defined by proving that it has prevented you from doing your job for 12 months or longer.
Whichever route you choose to qualify through, it pays to understand how the SSA works and what evidence truly helps your case. With the right kind of evidence, your chances of success can increase if you work with an experienced Social Security Disability professional who can answer your Social Security questions and guide you through the process.
Learn even more about the claims process by reading our Social Security Disability eBook for free!
A Note About Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Although PTSD used to be classified as an Anxiety Disorders, but since 2017, is now classified as a disability on its own. Social Security (as well as the VA) have specific guidelines for proving PTSD as a disability.
Help With Social Security Disability Filings
Applying for Social Security Disability is always a long, difficult process that could take months. You could experience denials, appeals and other delays that could prevent you from getting benefits. Get help from a disability lawyer who can make sure your application is submitted correctly the first time, and increase your chances of being successful.
Mark Whitehead & Associates has been helping people cut through the red tape of Social Security for over 27 years, and we’re ready to help you too, no matter where you live. Call us today at (800) 562-9830 (locally in Houston, 713-228-8888) for a free consultation. You can also use the free online contact form on our website.
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