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Do Anxiety Disorders Qualify for Disability Benefits?

Invisible illnesses like anxiety disorders and other mental health problems can be utterly debilitating and can seriously impair your ability to function. The problem one encounters, however, is that they tend not to have visible symptoms, which often leads the Social Security Administration to deny claims based on these kinds of disorders.

What can you do if you suffer from an anxiety condition and are denied SSDI coverage as a result? Learn whether anxiety disorders can be used to qualify one for disability benefits, and why it can be helpful to call on the services of an SSDI attorney.

Why the SSA Questions Anxiety

We live in an increasingly stressful and difficult society. People tend to be nervous and worried on a daily basis, and a lot of those who claim they have anxiety are just experiencing the normal conditions of daily life in the twenty-first century.

In order to qualify as a disorder, you must be able to demonstrate that you have severe and chronic symptoms that actively impair your function for at least a year, as well as matching a specific listed condition among those maintained by the SSA based on AMA guidelines. As such, they tend to look upon claims of anxiety with suspicion.

Anxiety-Related Disabilities

The SSA has specific qualifiers they use to rate whether your anxiety is disabling to the point where you deserve benefits. Your disability must be disruptive to the level where you are unable to work at any sort of job, even a low-pressure one. Besides qualifying for a specific diagnosed disorder, your illness needs to cripple your ability to function outside the home, or it must case two of the following factors to occur:

  1.      Marked limitation of daily living activities
  2.      Marked impairment of social function
  3.      Marked issues with maintaining concentration, focus, pace or persistence
  4.      Regular episodes of progressive symptoms with longer durations each time.

Qualifying Anxiety Disorders

The SSA’s “blue book” of listed disorders that qualify as disabling conditions for purposes of SSDI benefits lists specific anxiety disorders that, if properly diagnosed, can automatically qualify you for benefits if your condition is impaired as above. These include:

  • Panic attacks
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Phobias
  • General persistent anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

In order for these conditions to qualify you for benefits, your doctor will need to submit medical evidence of the diagnosis including documentation of symptoms and psychological testing. If you don’t have one of the above disorders, the SSA will consider your existing documented impairments and symptoms to determine if you qualify, including whether you can work a different career.

When You’re Denied Benefits

Many people who apply for SSDI based on anxiety impairments are denied the first time they apply. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to get benefits at all. It means you’ll have a road ahead where you’ll need to challenge the denial and fight to show that you need the benefits for which you’re applying.

To effectively do this, you’ll need the help of a disability attorney who knows how to approach the situation, prove that you are impaired, and get you the benefits you deserve. If you’re in Southern California, call the Law Offices of Dr. Bill LaTour for help seeking your benefits today.

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