How to Win Your SSD Claim for Anxiety
Anxiety disorders impact the lives of tens of millions of Americans. According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), more than 19% of U.S. adults suffer from some type of anxiety disorder.
Symptoms of anxiety may include:
- A sense of impending doom
- Feeling panicky
- High heart rate
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling weak
- Avoidance of anxiety-inducing settings
- Gastro-intestinal issues
- Fast, shallow breathing
- Difficulty concentrating on issues other than the source of stress
Of course, the symptoms and severity of anxiety vary. And, not all symptoms of anxiety are included in the listed criteria for SSD benefits. In other words, not everyone who suffers from anxiety is disabled or qualified for disability benefits. If your anxiety disorder is severe enough that you need to pursue Social Security disability benefits, it’s important to understand what is required to qualify for SSD benefits and how to present an effective application and the right supporting documentation.
The best way to ensure that your application and supporting materials are as complete and convincing as possible is to work with an experienced disability benefits advocate from the beginning.
Eligibility for SSD Benefits for Anxiety
There are two ways to qualify for disability benefits. The first is to meet or equal the criteria for a condition listed in the Social Security Blue Book.
Eligibility for a Listed Condition
The Blue Book listing for anxiety disorder requires that the applicant suffer from at least three of the following symptoms:
- Easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Sleep disturbance
These criteria are different for related disorders. For example, for panic disorder or agoraphobia, the applicant must suffer from at least one of the following:
- Panic attacks followed by persistent concern or worry about additional panic attacks
- Disproportionate fear or anxiety about at least two different situations
If the criteria above are met, an applicant for disability benefits must also show either that:
- They experience an extreme limitation of one or marked limitation of two or more of the following:
- The ability to understand, remember, or apply information
- The ability to interact with others
- The ability to concentrate, persist, or maintain pace
- The ability to adapt and manage themself
- The anxiety disorder is serious and persistent, meaning that it must have been documented across at least two years and certain other criteria regarding treatment and persistent impacts are met.
Lack of Available Work You Can Perform
If you don’t qualify for SSD by meeting or equaling the criteria for a listed condition, you may still be able to receive disability benefits if you are unable to perform work due to a combination of your medical limitations and certain other factors.
In this process, a vocational expert uses grids to determine whether there is work you can do. The first step is to determine whether you are still able to do the type of work you did before. If you are not, then a vocational expert will evaluate your ability to work based on a grid.
The grid takes into account the type of work you have done in the past, whether you have skills that will translate to another type of work, your educational level, and your age. Applicants who are older, don’t have skills that will transfer to other types of work, and have lower educational levels are more likely to be approved. If the SSA finds that there is work you are capable of performing, your claim for disability benefits will be denied.
Challenges in SSD Claims for Anxiety
Claims for disability benefits for anxiety are often denied. One reason anxiety claims can be difficult to establish is that there are no objective medical tests that can conclusively determine that a person is suffering from an anxiety disorder. There’s no scan or blood test that can support a diagnosis of anxiety. And, much of the information a doctor or psychiatrist relies on to make a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder or another type of anxiety disorder is self-reported.
That means it is especially important when making a disability claim for anxiety to have a well-documented history and present as much evidence as possible.
This may include:
- Medical records documenting symptoms over time
- Physicians’ and psychiatrists’ notes supporting the diagnosis
- Evidence of ongoing treatment and any medications you have tried or are currently taking for the disorder
- Information from friends and family about their observations of the anxiety disorder and related limitations
Disability Help Group is Here for You
Applying for Social Security disability benefits or appealing a denial of benefits can be stressful, and it can be difficult to know exactly what is required to establish your SSD claim. The process can be especially challenging when you are suffering from a condition such as anxiety. Fortunately, you don’t have to handle it alone.
The disability advocates at Disability Help Group have helped thousands of disabled workers pursue the benefits they need and deserve. We know the application inside out and have a solid understanding of the types of evidence that are most persuasive in an SSD application. We also know the difference it can make to have a knowledgeable guide through the disability application process.
If your claim has already been denied, we can help you assemble additional evidence to increase your chances of approval on reconsideration or represent you at a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Our advocates have extensive experience with both of these procedures as well.
However, the appeals process takes much longer than the initial determination, and you may wait two years or more to get your benefits approved and receive your first check. When you work with an experienced disability benefits advocate from the beginning, you give yourself the best chance of being among the minority of SSD applicants whose benefits are approved after the initial application. To learn more about our services and how we can be of assistance in your particular case, call us today at 800-800-3332 or contact us here now.