Can people receive Social Security Disability for anxiety disorders?

Provided they meet the eligibility requirements and evaluation criteria, people unable to work due to anxiety disorders may be entitled to SSD benefits.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, almost 19 percent of all adults in New Jersey and throughout the U.S. suffer from some type of mental illness, including anxiety disorders. Like other health conditions, mental ailments may also interfere with people's daily activities, including their ability to work. Under some circumstances, those who find themselves in such situations may be entitled to receive Social Security Disability, or SSD, benefits.

Nervousness is a normal emotion that people may experience from time to time. Anxiety disorders, however, are a group of potentially distressing mental illnesses that include panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, specific phobias and social anxiety disorder. They may cause people to experience a range of symptoms, such as the following: sleep disturbances, difficulty staying calm or still, heart palpitations, tense muscles, nausea, dizziness and uneasiness. The panic, fear and other such feelings that often accompany these conditions may be constant and, for some people, debilitating.

Eligibility requirements

Mental illnesses, including anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder, may qualify for SSD benefits if certain qualifications are met. To be deemed eligible, those suffering from these types of ailments must provide medical documentation affirming they experience specific symptoms. Additionally, they must show their conditions have resulted in significant limitations to their mental function with regards to remembering, understanding or applying information; interacting with others; adapting or managing themselves; and concentrating, persisting or maintaining a pace. Alternatively, they may claim their disorder is "serious and persistent."

Evaluation criteria

The Social Security Administration has specified certain evaluation criteria that is used to assess claims of a serious and persistent mental ailment. To satisfy these standards, people must show a minimal ability to adapt to changes in their daily demands or environment as a result of their anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorders. Further, they must have a documented medical history of suffering from the condition for at least two years and pursuing a course of ongoing, effective treatment. If the SSA determines they do not meet these qualifications, people's claims may be denied. Consequently, they may not receive the benefits they need, including supplemental income.

Seeking legal assistance

Even when people in New Jersey who are suffering with anxiety disorders meet the strict requirements for obtaining SSD benefits, the process is not always straightforward. Therefore, those who are struggling to see their needs met as a result of their mental illnesses may benefit from working with an attorney. A lawyer may help them understand their rights, as well as guide them through the claims and, if necessary, the appellate processes.