If you have anxiety that disrupts your ability to care for yourself, you can file for disability. Having a lawyer assist you with the process can help.

An anxiety disorders is a common mental health condition, and it’s also considered a disability in some circumstances.

If you qualify, you may be able to receive benefits from the government. The Social Security Administration (SSA) allows you to receive benefits for anxiety if the condition causes you to be unable to care for yourself.

Receiving disability benefits can be a lengthy process. It may be wise to have a disability lawyer help you with your application, as gathering the necessary documents can require a lot of work.

Your lawyer can also help you appeal the process if you’re denied. Anxiety can be distressing and overwhelming; if you need disability benefits, you don’t have to go through the process alone.

Yes, anxiety can be considered a disability for work. 2016 research suggests that anxiety disorders can negatively impact your life and are linked to severe disability for some people. Anxiety and depression are supported in the research literature as one of the top reasons for permanent disability.

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA) bluebook, anxiety is a condition that can allow you to receive disability income.

Types of anxiety

There are various types of anxiety disorders, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, text revision (DSM-5-TR). If you experience anxiety disorders, you might be diagnosed with the following:

  • Selective mutism: This disorder generally occurs in childhood and is the inability to speak in social situations. Without treatment, you can still have symptoms of this disorder in adulthood.
  • Separation anxiety disorder: Separation anxiety disorder occurs when there is significant anxiety when you’re away from home or someone you an attachment figure. This diagnosis can occur in children and adults.
  • Social anxiety disorder (Social Phobia): This disorder occurs when there’s perceived criticism or judgment from others in social situations. Symptoms of this disorder can be very distressing, and you may avoid social situations altogether if you have this condition.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): This disorder occurs when you experience anxiety disproportionate to the actual threat about various situations that arise in everyday life. This type of anxiety is usually excessive and persistent.
  • Agoraphobia: Agoraphobia is a fear of places or situations where you could experience embarrassment, judgment, feel trapped, or experience helplessness. Many people with agoraphobia have panic attacks and have difficulty leaving their homes.
  • Panic disorder: People with panic disorder often experience severe and recurrent panic attacks. These often feel out of your control and feeling uncomfortable and sudden extreme periods of fear.
  • Specific phobia: People with a specific phobia have extreme anxiety or fear when they think about or experience a particular situation. For example, they’re experiencing anxiety when flying on an airplane or seeing a spider.
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The SSA mentions that for anxiety to qualify as a disability, you must have documentation of being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and three out of five of these symptoms present:

  • restlessness
  • being easily tired
  • trouble concentrating
  • irritability
  • muscle tension
  • sleep disturbances

For panic disorder or agoraphobia, you must meet at least one of these criteria:

  • panic attacks or fear of continued panic attacks
  • fear or anxiety that’s out of proportion to the actual threat, such as using public transportation, leaving home, being in crowded areas, etc.

The SSA states that these symptoms must be persistent and severe, and that you have anxiety symptoms medically documented for two years.

There must also be evidence that supports the following:

  • Medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial supports, or a structured setting that lessens the symptoms of your disorder.
  • Due to your mental health condition, you have limited capacity to adapt to changes in your daily life or demands that aren’t already a part of your routine.

Or, your mental state creates an extreme limitation of one or a marked limitation of two of the following criteria:

  • your ability to understand, recall, or apply information
  • your interactions with others
  • concentration
  • managing yourself and your daily activities

If you have an anxiety disorder, there are several steps you’ll have to go through to determine your eligibility and apply for disability benefits. It’s essential to gather all required medical documentation to prove that your anxiety causes you to be unable to work or take care of yourself.

There are generally two types of disability benefits offered by the SSA:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): This type offers benefits to those who worked and paid taxes on their income.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): This type offers benefits to adults and children who are disabled and qualify

The steps you will need to take are as follows:

  1. You will need to gather all required documentation. The SSA offers a checklist for applying for disability online.
  2. Choose whether you will file on your own or with the assistance of a lawyer.
  3. Fill out and apply with all required proof. You can apply online, by phone at 1-800-772-1213, or at your nearest social security office. You can use this office locator to find your closest social security office. If you’re outside the United States, you can find Federal benefits for your country of residence here.
  4. The SSA determines if you’re eligible after you complete your application.
  5. The SSA processes the application and sends it to the appropriate disability determination service in your state.
  6. The state agency decides on whether you will receive benefits or not.

What happens if I’m denied disability benefits?

If the decision comes back that you’re denied, there are steps you can take to appeal the decision.

According to the SSA, if you’re denied, you have four options to appeal the decision:

  • Request a reconsideration: This may require you to upload additional documentation.
  • Request a hearing: This option would send your case to an administrative law judge.
  • Request a review of the hearing decision: This option sends your case to an appeals council.
  • File a federal court review: This option allows your case to be reviewed by Federal United States District Court.

You have 60 days after receiving a decision to request any of these appeal options.

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Anxiety can be overwhelming. If you have trouble completing your daily activities, can’t care for yourself, and can’t work due to your condition, you may be eligible for disability benefits.

Applying for disability benefits can be a long process, and many people have their applications denied the first time.

If you’re denied, you have four options to appeal the process. It may be helpful to find a disability lawyer to help you file your application or with the appeals procedure.