Not all disabilities are visible on the surface; mental impairments keep people from working and enjoying everyday life just as much as physical ones do. Mental disorders, like an anxiety disorder, can also prevent “meaningful gainful activity,” and thereby qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Although most people experience anxiety at times, even severe anxiety, it is only when those symptoms are so severe that they hinder everyday activities that an individual may qualify for Disability Insurance. In order to qualify for SSDI, the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires:
medical evidence of a diagnosis relating to an anxiety disorder
current condition has left (or will leave) the individual out of any type of work for at least 12 months
sufficient quarters of coverage
All the criteria for SSD benefits are in the SSA’s “Social Security Listing of Impairments,”a manual used by the state-run Disability Determination Services (DDS) to decide whether or not a condition meets the requirements for complete disability, specifically, section 12.06 covers anxiety-related mental disorders.
What Specific Medical Evidence Do I Need to Prove my Anxiety Disability Case?
The SSA will want to see evidence of the psychological testing or evaluations that led to your diagnosis or diagnoses, and any treatment notes by your doctor showing that you have consistently reported symptoms of anxiety. You will need detailed notes (which can be written up in an official doctor’s statement) of how your anxiety disorder actually affects you. For example, if you are at work and experience a panic attack—how do you respond? Does it lead to hours of inactivity, silence, motionless, physical seizures etc. that prevent you from working normally? You should obtain a professional medical opinion from a doctor/psychiatrist on the severity of your condition.
A list of general symptoms experienced by individuals suffering from anxiety disorders are as follows:
frequent (and long-term) abnormal levels of worry and concern, sweating, feeling faint, dry mouth, and muscle tension, often causing lack of sleep
continuing, unreasonable fears that force you to remove yourself from a certain environment, object, activity, or situation
ongoing and unpredictable panic attacks, often combined with irrational fears and worries
continuous obsessions which greatly limit the normal flow of daily life
resurfacing disturbing memories, causing great levels of distress
Impact of Anxiety on your Life
For anxiety cases, the SSA tries to determine multiple factors for examining the negative effect that the anxiety disorder has. If you feel any of the following ring true for you, you may qualify for disability benefits.
Significant restriction of normal daily activities
Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning
Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace at work
Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration, or
Resulting in complete inability to function independently outside the area of one’s home.
Anxiety Disorders: an Overview
Of all emotional or mental illnesses, anxiety disorders are the most common among Americans. Over 20 million people live with some level of an anxiety disorder. According to the National Institute of Health
Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event (such as speaking in public or a first date), anxiety disorders last at least 6 months and can get worse if they are not treated. Each anxiety disorder has different symptoms, but all the symptoms cluster around excessive, irrational fear and dread.
There is no “cure-all” for anxiety disorders, but a variety of treatments are available. Some individuals are able to function normally in their everyday occupations with specialized treatment while others are unable to respond to any treatment (in which case they would likely qualify for Disability Insurance benefits). For a more complete listing of symptoms and the various kinds of anxiety disorders, visit the Affiliated Research Institute.
Hiring an SSDI Attorney
When filing for benefits with an anxiety disorder, there are no guarantees for qualifying. The best way to ensure you receive the benefits you deserve is by retaining a knowledgeable locally-based Utah Social Security Lawyer. While the overwhelming majority of all applications are rejected at both the initial and appeals stages, nearly two-thirds of cases brought to a hearing (with a competent lawyer representing the disabled person) are accepted. Call the Summit Disability Law Group and let us help you navigate the complicated legal structure so you can receive the benefits you deserve.