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Does SSA Qualify Anxiety as a Disability?

Anxiety disorders are conditions that can cause people to experience an array of physical and mental symptoms that can range from mild to severe. Commonly reported mental symptoms include persistent worry, irritability, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, and a heightened state of alertness. Physical symptoms associated with anxiety disorders may include increased heart rate, sweating, shaking, nausea, muscle tension, and an easy startle reflex.

Anxiety disorders can have a significant impact on day-to-day functioning and quality of life, including job performance and personal relationships. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes that these symptoms can be disabling for some individuals when it comes to working or being productive at work. To qualify for disability benefits, individuals must have a diagnosis of anxiety along with several accompanying symptoms.

How Do I Get Approved for Benefits with Anxiety?

People with anxiety disorders can apply for disability benefits under the Social Security Listing 12.06. To qualify, they must have a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder and demonstrate at least three symptoms, such as restlessness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and muscle tension. Furthermore, they must show that their condition has caused an extreme limitation in at least one of the following areas or marked limitation in two: understanding/remembering/applying information; interacting with others; concentrating/persisting/maintaining pace; and adapting/managing oneself.

For those who do not meet the listing criteria, they may still be able to get disability through a medical-vocational allowance by demonstrating that they cannot function enough to do any type of work and are not able to adjust to any other type of work. In this case, Social Security will look at medical records and activities of daily living to determine what can or cannot be done mentally. Additionally, providing a detailed description of how anxiety limits one’s ability to work (e.g., number of absences per month) as well as what triggers it both in the workplace and home can help demonstrate its disabling nature.

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June 13, 2023

Written by Leah Meyer