Most of us feel anxiety from time to time as we respond to stress from life’s unexpected events and challenges. As a rule, we find ways to cope with these situations and continue our normal daily activities.
For someone suffering from an anxiety disorder, stress is not a passing, temporary thing. It is something they live with daily and that worsens over time. If anxiety affects your daily life and ability to work, you might qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Anxiety and Disability
For an anxiety disorder to qualify as ‘severe’, an individual must be unable to work or function at home for at least 12 months. And, they’ll need sufficient medical evidence to support their anxiety symptoms. In these severe cases, SSA may award disability benefits.
According to the SSA and its Blue Book guidelines on mental disorders, an anxiety disorder “is a condition characterized by persistent feelings of apprehension, tension, or uneasiness.” They might feel overwhelming feelings of alarm or terror triggered by everyday events or situations.
There are five major anxiety disorders with varying symptoms.
1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder – This disorder is characterized by a fairly constant state of worry and tension not related to any particular situation or event. The anxiety must last for six months or longer to meet the diagnostic criteria.
2. Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD) – This type is characterized by repetitive or ritualistic behavior performed to reduce or control symptoms of anxiety, including recurrent thoughts or behaviors.
3. Panic Disorder – Panic disorder is characterized by repeated attacks of terror lasting up to 10 minutes but with no identifiable cause.
4. Social Anxiety Disorder – Individuals living with this disorder suffer from an overwhelming, irrational, and involuntary fear of ordinary situations, things, places, and occasions. This leads them to avoid public places and social events.
5. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder – This is characterized by severe stress symptoms lasting more than a month and caused by witnessing or being part of a traumatic event.
A consistent characteristic of anxiety disorders is that when left untreated, they worsen over time. This makes holding a job, pursuing an education, maintaining relationships and even leaving the house difficult.
Section 12.06 of the SSA’s Blue Book contains information about anxiety disorders. When diagnosing a disabling anxiety disorder, a doctor will attempt to rule out other causes. They do this to establish that the patient’s anxiety is systemic and not related to an external event. Additionally, the doctor will attempt to establish the severity and duration of anxiety symptoms and determine the impact these have on a person’s ability to engage in regular daily activities, such as school or work.
To qualify for disability, a person’s anxiety must interfere directly and significantly with their work, relationships, social life, and/or normal, daily activities.
It can be extremely difficult to secure either Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) with an anxiety disorder. This is because the diagnosis is highly subjective. The diagnosis criteria can be difficult-to-document, especially with events taking place outside the doctor’s office.
To further complicate things, the SSA makes a distinction between medical disability and vocational disability.
For some applicants, their symptoms of anxiety disorder are so severe that the SSA finds them disabled without needing to determine that they cannot hold and perform a job. Hence, they are classified by the SSA as having a medical disability.
The standards for qualifying for medical disability are extremely high. Often, disability benefits are made by the SSA on the basis of vocational disability. This means that the SSA finds your limitations so severe that they prevent you from doing any job.
To determine if your anxiety is disabling, the SSA will require evidence that you’ve been receiving regular treatment. The medical records you present to the agency should include:
· Progress notes showing you’re regularly reporting symptoms of anxiety to your doctor or therapist.
· Any mental status examinations that show any abnormalities in your thinking, such as difficulty remembering recent events or losing your train of thought.
· Comments about the effects of any medication you’re taking, including side effects.
In addition to this documentation, you must explain to the SSA how your anxiety symptoms prevent you from working.
While some individuals apply directly for disability assistance, the application process is difficult. According to the SSA, only 22 percent of initial claims result in an approval.
One way to improve your chance of success is to secure the services of highly experienced disability attorneys. At Collins Price, we assist disabled individuals throughout our state with their claims. We have helped thousands of North Carolinians sucessfully secure disability benefits.
The Social Security Disability lawyers at Collins Price will assist you in filing for Social Security Disabiltiy for anxiety. And in providing the SSA with the medical and any other documentation they may require. Our attorneys also follow your claim fully through the hearing and appeals process if necessary.
If you’re in need of disability assistance in the state of North Carolina, please do not delay. Contact the law office of Collins Price for your initial free consultation. As always, there is no fee for our services unless we win your claim.