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Everyone experiences nerves now and then, perhaps before a big test or when talking to someone they like. But what if that worry sticks around, making it tough to attend school, work, or even manage daily tasks? This is the reality for millions living with anxiety.

By knowing what the Social Security Administration looks for and having good medical proof, people can apply for the help they need to deal with anxiety problems.

Short Summary

  • Anxiety disorders are mental health conditions characterized by intense feelings of fear and worry, affecting daily functioning.
  • Five main types of anxiety disorders include Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Phobias, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Anxiety may qualify as a disability if it substantially limits an individual’s ability to engage in crucial life activities and sustain full-time employment, as determined by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
  • To qualify for disability benefits, individuals must provide documented proof of their anxiety disorder and demonstrate either severe mental limitations or ongoing treatment for anxiety that persists.
  • The SSA outlines specific criteria for qualifying for disability benefits related to anxiety, including the presence of particular symptoms and limitations in daily functioning.
  • In cases where individuals do not meet the SSA’s criteria, alternative avenues for qualifying for disability benefits, such as the Mental Residual Functional Capacity (MRFC) form, can be pursued.
  • Medical evidence, including detailed symptom descriptions and ongoing treatment documentation, is essential in supporting disability claims related to anxiety disorders.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety disorders represent mental health conditions wherein intense feelings of fear and worry dominate one’s daily existence. These disorders manifest in various ways, such as difficulty concentrating, avoidance of specific situations, or experiencing severe panic. There exist five distinct types of anxiety disorders:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): This form entails persistent worry and tension not tied to any particular event, typically lasting at least six months to warrant a diagnosis.
  • Panic Disorder: Characterized by frequent, intense anxiety episodes lasting roughly 10 minutes or longer.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Individuals with OCD engage in repetitive behaviors driven by anxiety and intrusive, recurring thoughts.
  • Phobias: These involve involuntary fears of specific places, objects, events, or situations.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD occurs when severe stress symptoms persist for over a month following a traumatic incident.

Severe anxiety disorders severely hinder or prevent individuals from performing everyday tasks, presenting with a variety of distressing symptoms. These challenges may stem from past traumatic experiences, ranging from military combat to violent crimes or animal attacks, while others may lack a specific trigger.

Can You Get Disability For Anxiety?

Anxiety may qualify as a disability provided the applicant presents sufficient evidence and medical documentation demonstrating its impact on their functioning and ability to maintain employment. Eligibility also hinges on meeting the criteria outlined in the Social Security Administration (SSA) Blue Book and having accrued enough work credits.

Individuals with a severe anxiety disability can pursue Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, though this process can prove challenging. Applicants must furnish a medical history indicating recurrent anxiety episodes and demonstrate how their condition affects their behavior, particularly after receiving regular treatment from a medical professional.

According to the SSA’s definition, disability encompasses any mental or medical impairment that renders the individual incapable of engaging in gainful employment for a minimum of 12 consecutive months.

What are the Criteria For Getting Disability with Anxiety?

To qualify for disability benefits due to anxiety, several general criteria must be met. Firstly, documented proof of an anxiety disorder is essential. Additionally, one of the following two criteria must be satisfied: either the anxiety significantly impairs mental abilities or the individual has undergone multiple years of treatment for anxiety, yet the condition persists.

Below is a more detailed information regarding the requirements for obtaining disability benefits for an anxiety disorder:

1. Prove the existence of an anxiety disorder

  • Individuals with anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety or generalized anxiety disorder, must medically establish experiencing at least three of the following six symptoms:
    • Restlessness
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Irritability
    • Muscle tension
    • Sleep disturbances (difficulty falling or staying asleep)
    • Fatigue
  • For those with obsessive-compulsive disorder, meeting one or both of the following criteria is necessary:
  • Involuntary and time-consuming preoccupation with intrusive, unwanted thoughts
  • Engagement in repetitive or ritualistic behaviors to alleviate anxiety
  • If diagnosed with phobias or panic disorder, individuals must meet one or both of the following criteria:
    • Regular panic attacks accompanied by persistent worry about additional attacks or their consequences
    • Significant fear or anxiety regarding at least two different situations (e.g., crowds, public transportation)

2a. Demonstrate severe limitations in mental abilities

  • The SSA evaluates four key areas of mental functioning:
    • Understanding, remembering, or applying information
    • Interacting with others
    • Concentration and sustained task performance
    • Adapting to changes or managing oneself
  • Medical records must demonstrate extreme limitation in at least one area or marked limitation in multiple areas.

2b. Prove the seriousness and long-term nature of the anxiety

  • Medical records should indicate:
    • A minimum two-year history of anxiety
    • Ongoing medical treatment aimed at managing or reducing symptoms, which may include mental health therapy
    • Dependence on external support to manage daily activities, such as assistance from family members or participation in rehabilitation programs

Persistent adherence to treatment is crucial for meeting these criteria, as inconsistent or incomplete treatment may result in benefits denial by the SSA.

What If My Anxiety Doesn’t Meet the Criteria For Disability Benefits?

If an individual fails to meet the criteria outlined in the Blue Book listings, it can present challenges in medically qualifying for disability benefits. It’s generally advisable to strive to demonstrate compliance with the specific requirements for anxiety as delineated in the Blue Book. However, in cases where none of the Blue Book criteria are met, alternative avenues for qualifying for disability benefits, such as through an MRFC, can be pursued.

An MRFC, or Mental Residual Functional Capacity form, is a document obtainable from the SSA’s website. This form must be completed by one’s doctor or psychologist. In the MRFC, detailed descriptions of all anxiety-related symptoms must be provided, accompanied by an explanation of how these symptoms render the individual incapable of working due to anxiety.

Get In Touch With Us Today!

The question “is anxiety a disabilty?” is multifaceted, involving medical, legal, and social considerations. While anxiety disorders can significantly impact individuals’ lives, navigating the process of obtaining disability benefits can be complex.

It’s essential for individuals experiencing anxiety-related challenges to understand their rights and explore available avenues for support. Seeking assistance from knowledgeable people that handle Social Security Disability can provide invaluable guidance and advocacy throughout this process.

At E. Orum Young Law, we are well-versed in Social Security Disability cases and offer free case reviews to individuals grappling with anxiety-related disability claims. Our Monroe, Louisiana team is dedicated to helping you understand your options and advocating for the benefits you deserve.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a free consultation. Together, we can navigate the complexities of the Social Security Disability system and work towards securing the support you need to thrive despite the challenges of anxiety.