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Anxiety and Social Security Administration Disability

Everyone experiences some degree of anxiety in life, which can be heightened if a claimant does not have a job or income. Anxiety, which the Social Security Administration considers disabling, however, would be much more profound and severe.

The Social Security Administration has two methods they use to determine if a claimant is disabled for mental health disorders and qualifies for either Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance.

First, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will determine if the claimant’s condition is severe enough to meet or exceed a listing on the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments (also informally known as the Blue Book) or if the claimant’s condition does not meet a listing whether or not the claimant has the residual functional capacity to work.

Meeting a Listing in the SSA Blue Book for Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a listed disorder found in the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments under 12.00 Mental Disorders, Section 112.06 Anxiety-related disorders. To meet a listing the SSA is first looking for medical evidence of the disorder: signs, symptoms, psychological testing, clinical notes or laboratory testing. Claimants who have not seen a doctor or followed a doctor’s treatment plan will have difficulty proving they are disabled.

Next, the SSA will evaluate whether or not a claimant’s condition meets or exceeds the listing. Anxiety related disorders generally fall into severe phobias or obsessive compulsive disorders. According to the SSA, they would expect to see, “anxiety as either the predominant disturbance or experienced as the individual attempts to master symptoms; for example, confronting the dreaded object or situation in a phobic disorder or resisting the obsessions or compulsions in obsessive compulsive disorders.”

First the Social Security Administration is looking for three of the four signs of symptoms:

The SSA will also determine if the claimant has an “irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation which results in a compelling desire to avoid the dreaded object, activity, or situation” or “recurrent severe panic attacks manifested by a sudden unpredictable onset of intense apprehension, fear, terror and sense of impending doom occurring on the average of at least once a week” or “recurrent obsessions or compulsions which are a source of marked distress” or “recurrent and intrusive recollections of a traumatic experience, which are a source of marked distress.”

All the symptoms and signs listed above must lead also to the marked restrictions in at least two of the following: daily activities, social functioning, difficulty maintaining concentration, persistence or pace and repeated episodes of decompensation.

The claimant can also have all the symptoms listed above and prove that they do not have the ability to function outside of their home.

What if I do not meet a listing for anxiety?

Many claimants will not have all the evidence listed above to prove their anxiety disorder meets or exceeds the listing, but they can prove that their disorder, plus potentially other disorders, does not leave them enough residual capacity to work.

Most claimants who do not meet a listing should contact a disability lawyer and have them review their medical files. Disability lawyers help hundreds of claimants each year and they understand how to win disability benefits for anxiety disorders.
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