Individuals who suffer from anxiety or panic-related disorders may apply for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Related disorders include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety
- Several specific phobias.
All of these disorders can affect a person’s ability to function and carry out life’s daily activities, including going to work. However, the SSA will allow disability benefits only if the condition has a severe and disabling effect on a person’s life. In other words, to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, a person must show through medical documentation that the condition meets the SSA’s definition of a “disability.”
Here, we discuss the symptoms of anxiety, the impact it can have on a person’s life and how a person with anxiety can navigate the disability claims process. If you suffer from anxiety, contact our experienced and compassionate SSD benefits attorneys at Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill Co., L.P.A. Since 1985, we have helped clients throughout northeastern Ohio to pursue the benefits they deserve. We can provide a free and confidential consultation today.
What Are the Symptoms of Anxiety?
Anxiety, as a disorder, is different from the natural feeling of nervousness that some people feel. The symptoms of anxiety often arise without an apparent reason. They may not subside right away, which can make everyday life experiences terrifying for the affected individual. Some common symptoms of anxiety are:
- Sudden feelings of terror
- Feeling out of control
- Difficulty with focusing
Anxiety can have physical symptoms as well such as:
- Increased heart rate
- Chest pains
- Difficulty with breathing
- Feeling weak or faint
- Tension in the muscles
Anxiety disorders can be traced to many different causes. Some people are biologically vulnerable to them. Others may develop anxiety due to stress or changes in their lives. For instance, many people who have served in the military in overseas combat return home with anxiety or related disorders.
How Does the Social Security Administration List Anxiety?
The SSA lists “anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders” in Section 12.06 of the Blue Book. The Blue Book is a listing of conditions which the SSA considers to be disabling. For each condition, the SSA provides specific criteria which a person’s condition must meet in order to be deemed “disabled” and eligible for benefits.
Among the anxiety disorders that the medical community widely recognizes are:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) – Being in a constant state of worry or tension for no specific reason for more than six months
- Panic disorder – Attacks of terror or anxiety that repeatedly appear unprovoked
- Social phobia – Overwhelming and irrational fears of events, situations, or objects
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – When a person tries to control intrusive thoughts or impulses by performing repetitive behaviors.
The SSA once evaluated post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) an anxiety disorder. Today, the SSA has a separate Blue Book listing for PTSD. It is found in Section 12.15, or “trauma- and stressor-related disorders.”
To qualify for disability due to an anxiety disorder, under Section 12.06 of the Blue Book, you must present medical documentation which meets a two-part test. First, the medical evidence must establish that you suffer from three or more of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty with concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Sleep disturbance.
Second, you must show extreme limitation (in one area) or marked limitation (in two areas) of the following:
- Concentrating on and completing tasks
- Understanding information and applying it and using good judgment
- Taking care of yourself without assistance (such as controlling your behavior, practicing good hygiene, going to work and paying bills)
- Interacting with others in a socially appropriate way.
In the alternative, you can show that you suffer from anxiety disorder that is “serious and persistent.” In other words, you have a documented medical history of the disorder over a period of at least two years which shows:
- Ongoing treatment or therapy that diminishes the signs and symptoms of the disorder; and
- You have a “minimal capacity” to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already a part of your daily life.
The medical evidence can include psychological tests from doctors and notes. If possible, your treating doctor should provide information detailing the triggers for your anxiety, the level of anxiety you routinely experience and how it impacts your ability to work. Any statements from past employers that can corroborate your claim could also be beneficial. For instance, your employer may state that you missed work in the past for anxiety-related reasons.
How Do You Apply for Anxiety-Related Disability Benefits?
To apply for disability benefits from the SSA for anxiety, you can first consult with an attorney from Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill Co., L.P.A., who has experience with the application process. The attorney can ensure that you don’t make any mistakes or accidental omissions on the application which could result in your claim being summarily rejected for errors or incompleteness.
Your attorney will help you collect and submit your medical records, which include notes of treatment, any hospitalization for anxiety, medications prescribed and any other relevant paperwork. Once all of the paperwork is complete, you can submit your application in one of three ways:
- Using the SSA’s online application form
- Call (800) 772-1213
- Submit the application in person at the local Social Security office (go here to find the nearest office in northeastern Ohio).
A disability examiner from the Ohio Division of Disability Determination (DDD) will evaluate your application. Remember: Decisions are not based on whether you have a condition. Rather, they are based on whether the condition causes functional limitations that keep you from being able to work.
Get Help from Our Northeastern Ohio SSD Benefits Attorneys
The Social Security disability lawyers at Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill Co., L.P.A., are dedicated to helping individuals in northeastern Ohio to seek the disability benefits they need. If you suffer from severe and disabling anxiety, and you are unable to work as a result, we will tirelessly pursue benefits which can help you to support yourself and those you love. If the SSA denies your application, we will help you to appeal the decision.
The process that goes into seeking social security disability benefits can be complex and challenging. However, our attorneys have the in-depth knowledge of the system that is necessary to help you. We are ready to put that experience to work for you today.
You won’t owe us anything unless we secure benefits on your behalf. There is no risk to call us to discuss your situation and get counsel from a knowledgeable member of our team. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
Robert L. Heller has practiced law in Ohio for nearly 40 years, devoting his entire career to helping disabled people in the Mahoning Valley to pursue needed benefits. A native of Warren, Ohio, Robert earned his undergraduate degree from Miami University of Ohio and his law degree from the University of Toledo College of Law. He also studied public administration at American University in Washington, D.C. He is admitted to practice in Ohio state courts, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio and Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals as well as a member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant Representatives (NOSSCR).