Thank you so very much for your help with my disability claim. Please thank each and everyone who helped in getting this done. Every time I had questions and had to call you for advice, whomever I spoke with at the time was very helpful and polite and most of all caring. Once again, Mr. Nash, thank you so very much.
Winning Social Security Disability Benefits for Anxiety Disorders
Almost everyone is affected by some level of anxiety and stress at one time or another. It is often thought of as a symptom of life in our sometimes chaotic and fast-paced society. Anxiety of course can be normal in stressful situations like a performance review at work, public speaking in front of a large audience, or taking a test. But when excessive, all-consuming feelings of fear and worry, or panic attacks, interfere with daily living, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
The National Mental Health Institute says that generalized anxiety disorder symptoms include:
- “Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
- Being easily fatigued
- Having difficulty concentrating; mind going blank
- Being irritable
- Having muscle tension
- Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
- Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep”
If a doctor or psychologist has diagnosed you with an anxiety disorder like Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress disorder, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or a phobia-related disorder, and your symptoms prevent you from being able to work and hold onto a job, you may eligible for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Winning a disability case for an anxiety disorder is not always easy, but we have won victories for our clients in many anxiety disorder cases.
There are two kinds of disability payments allowed under Social Security law:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are disabled and you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is based on financial need. The Social Security Administration says, “It is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income.”
The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers you disabled under their rules if:
- “You cannot do work that you did before.
- [They] decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s).
- Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.”
To be considered for disability benefits due to an anxiety disorder, Social Security requires medical evidence that you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and that as a result of this condition you have been unable to work or are expected to be unable to work for at least 12 months.
There are two ways you can qualify for benefits. The first way is when your impairment meets the criteria in SSA’s listing of impairments—commonly referred to as the “Blue Book”. In the Blue Book listing 12.06 covers all anxiety-related mental disorders.
The required standards to meet this listing are long and very detailed. You must have a medical documentation for at least one of the following:
- “Anxiety disorder, characterized by three or more of the following;
b. Easily fatigued;
c. Difficulty concentrating;
e. Muscle tension; or
f. Sleep disturbance.
- Panic disorder or agoraphobia, characterized by one or both:
a. Panic attacks followed by a persistent concern or worry about additional panic attacks or their consequences; or
b. Disproportionate fear or anxiety about at least two different situations (for example, using public transportation, being in a crowd, being in a line, being outside of your home, being in open spaces).
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder, characterized by one or both:
a. Involuntary, time-consuming preoccupation with intrusive, unwanted thoughts; or
b. Repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety.”
In addition, under SSA rules, you must show that your anxiety disorder affects your ability to function normally. You must have an extreme problem in one of the following areas, or a “marked” (seriously limiting) problem in two of the following areas:
- “Understand, remember, or apply information (see 12.00E1).
- Interact with others (see 12.00E2).
- Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace (see 12.00E3).
- Adapt or manage oneself (see 12.00E4).
Or, your mental disorder in this listing category is “serious and persistent;” that is, you have a medically documented history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least 2 years, and there is evidence of both:
- Medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or a highly structured setting(s) that is ongoing and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of your mental disorder (see 12.00G2b); and
- Marginal adjustment; that is, you have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life (see 12.00G2c).”
- It is worthwhile to note that different standards apply to individuals who live in highly protected and supervised situations (like institutions or group homes). Social Security acknowledges that these living arrangements can mean that a person with an anxiety disorder is able to function better than would be the case in less supportive environments, wherework or home situations would make the stress and demands on them greater.
We often receive calls from clients or prospective clients who have looked up the Listings online and state, “I definitely qualify based on this.” However, the truth is that far fewer people who apply for Social Security disability benefits actually meet the strict requirements of the Blue Book listings. Yet there is a second way to qualify—by proving that you are unable to perform any work due to your anxiety disorder given your age, education, and past work experience. Social Security will look to see if you are functionally limited from working. The agency will next assess your “Residual Functional Capacity,” or RFC, to determine if there’s any type of work you’re able to perform despite the limitations caused by your symptoms and the side effects of your medication or treatments.
Keep in mind that you must provide the evidence to prove that your condition prevents you from performing any substantial work, so any limitations or symptoms due to your anxiety disorder should be recorded in your medical records.
We’re on Your Side
Because disability lawyers work on a contingency basis (they only get paid if you win and their fees are limited by law), they are on your side and have the same stake in your case that you do. The Nash Disability Law attorneys focus exclusively on Social Security disability law and can present your case in a way that Social Security can understand, whether that is for anxiety or another mental or physical health problem. Contact us for a free evaluation of your situation.