Anxiety and Social Security Disability

Many people in today’s society suffer from anxiety.   Not everyone with anxiety is qualified for social security disability, though.  What makes one qualify for disability benefits?

To start with I will talk about what anxiety is.  There are different types of anxiety.  There is generalized anxiety.  This is a condition in which people are constantly anxious and worry about things, even when is little or no reason to worry about them. They are very anxious about just getting through the day. They worry that their day and worry things will go badly.  This worrying may cause interference with people being able to do their daily living activities.  Symptoms may include:  muscle tension, muscle aches, trembling, irritability, sweating, nausea, lightheadedness and feeling out of breath.

There is panic disorder.   This is when people have what are called panic attacks. People have a fear of being out of control when they have panic attacks.  Physical symptoms of a panic attack may include the fear that one is dying, racing heart, sweating, shortness of breath, weakness or dizziness, feeling hot or a cold chill, tingly or numb hands, chest pain and stomach pain.

There is social anxiety.  People with social anxiety are afraid to be around other people.  If they are around other people they have a difficult time talking with them.  They are very self-conscious and are afraid that other people will judge them.  If they have to attend an event they may worry for days or weeks ahead of time.  They tend to avoid places where there are other people.

Many clients have all 3 types of anxiety or other forms such as agoraphobia in which they are afraid to leave their house.  Will having anxiety qualify you for having social security disability? It depends.  You have to show the Social Security Administration that based on your age, education and past work experience that you cannot work a full-time 40 hour per week job.   You can also qualify by meeting a listing.  Here is the listing that the Social Security Administration uses: http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/12.00-MentalDisorders-Adult.htm#12_06.  If you have anxiety, but it is mild and you only have a panic attack once every 2 weeks, then you will probably not qualify.

What you need to demonstrate is that your anxiety is so great that it causes enough limitations that you cannot perform a full-time job.  It is also important that you are being treated by a psychologist, psychiatrist or counselor.  If you have never sought treatment it will make it much more difficult to qualify for social security disability since the Social Security Administration relies on medical records to make a determination.  If you have never sought treatment then the only thing they can rely on is a consultative exam by an independent doctor.  However, most of the time it is thought that if you never sought treatment then your anxiety cannot be that limiting.

Please remember that this is just general information, and everyone’s situation is unique. This article should not be considered legal advice.