Can You Get Disability for Anxiety Disorders?
Caring for yourself means more than just eating the right foods and getting in a few thousand steps. Your mental health is an integral part of living a long and healthy life. While stress and worry are unfortunately quite common in today’s demanding lifestyle, an anxiety disorder takes this to a completely different level. A mental health disorder like anxiety may impede your ability to work and live independently. If you are unable to function because of an anxiety disorder, you may want to consider filing a claim for disability with the Social Security Administration (SSA).
What Are Disability Benefits?
Most people who have worked have contributed to Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI. This is a federal insurance program that pays benefits to workers who are deemed disabled under SSA’s guidelines. SSDI may also pay out to dependents who rely on the financial support of the disabled worker. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have worked a requisite number of years and been employed recently.
Once disability benefits are approved, you will receive money each month from the SSA. The amount depends on your average wages before becoming disabled. The money you get has nothing to do with the kind of disability you have or its severity. It is strictly based on cumulative earnings since the more you made, the more money went towards SSDI.
Identifying Anxiety Disorders for Disability Payments
Experts still do not fully understand what triggers anxiety disorders. Patients may experience symptoms gradually, or they may start after a traumatic event or an underlying health condition. Some people may also be predisposed genetically to anxiety. Some measure of worry and stress is normal, but when those feelings escalate to an almost constant state of fear, the doctor may diagnose you with one or more anxiety disorders. Even when treated, any of these may result in your inability to live without experiencing repeated and persistent panic attacks that make it almost impossible to have a daily routine. If that is the case, you my want to file for disability due to your debilitating anxiety.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
When the brain is overwhelmed with daily worry filled with racing and excessive thought patterns, a doctor may diagnose generalized anxiety disorder or GAD. The person’s concern usually revolves around everyday issues, such as money, health, work or family. Some may agonize over broader issues entirely outside of their control, such as the state of the government or society disparity. The intensity of the worry may escalate and render a person incapable of getting out of bed and facing the day. Doctors believe that GAD most commonly develops over years of stressful life experiences.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a mental health condition brought on by a traumatic or violent event that a person either witnesses or experiences. While not everyone who goes through a traumatic event develops PTSD, for those who do, it can completely derail life. The symptoms of PTSD may begin slowly and escalate drastically after a traumatic experience. Signs of PTSD can be grouped into four overarching categories:
- Excessive memory recall of the event: flashbacks, nightmares or physical and emotional reactions to a trigger
- Avoiding behavior: Staying away from people, locations or activities that serve as reminders of the traumatic event
- A negative shift in mood and thinking: hopelessness, memory recall issues, feeling detached, self-blame, loss of interest or emotional numbness
- Constant arousal: vigilant behavior, insomnia, concentration problems, increasingly aggressive, self-destructive behavior, easily scared or shame
Anxiety that comes from PTSD can be life changing, so speak to a lawyer about how disability payments may help you.
When unwanted or obsessive fears and thoughts lead a person to perform repetitive and compulsive actions, the impact on daily activities may become drastic. OCD thinking leads to patterns of action that become increasingly debilitating. While these acts may start as a way to try and ease the stressful thoughts, the mind becomes conditioned to perform the compulsive behaviors automatically. The more stressed a person becomes, the more intense these rituals become. One of the unique elements of OCD is that it typically revolves around a theme. Some people perform handwashing rituals to wash germs away, which may lead to painful chafing of hands. A person’s OCD may revolve around multiple issues such as:
- Excessive fear
Filing a Disability Claim for Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety disorders, even with treatment, may never fully resolve. With so much still unknown about how mental disorders start and the brain in general, it may become impossible to maintain a productive daily routine. Work may become more difficult either due to crippling thoughts, feelings, fears or ritualistic behaviors. When it becomes evident that your anxiety disorder has altered your ability to sustain a functional day, you may want to consider filing for SSDI benefits. Because of the specificity with which SSDI applications must be assembled, you may wish to engage an attorney to help.
Providing Medical Documentation
SSA requires sufficient medical documentation that your anxiety disorder has made working next to impossible. You should gather all medical reports from any doctor who treated you for your condition. Aside from seeing that you have been dealing with the symptoms of your anxiety disorder for some time, the SSA wants to see the impact on your life. Specific examples from your doctor will help in obtaining approval for disability payments.
Meeting Qualifications for Disability
The SSA has specific parameters outlined in their rules governing acceptance of anxiety disorders and disability. Your records must reflect that you continually suffer from at least three of the following effects of your anxiety disorder:
- Easily exhausted
- Inability to concentrate or focus
- Sleep issues
- Tension in the muscles
In your application, you must also illustrate how the above effects have made normal functioning difficult, for example:
- Cannot remember, understand or follow directions
- Inability to socialize
- Exhibits uncontrolled or erratic behavior
- Does not finish tasks in an appropriate time span
Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer
Living with an anxiety disorder may seem impossible. Putting yourself through more stress trying to get disability payments on your own may only make your anxiety symptoms worse. It is a good idea to speak to a lawyer well-versed in SSDI benefit applications. Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an attorney in your area!