Anxiety can qualify for disability benefits when it substantially impacts an individual’s daily life and ability to work. To qualify, the anxiety disorder must meet specific criteria outlined by the Social Security Administration (SSA) for mental disorders. This includes severe limitations in social functioning, concentration, adaptation, and persistence. 

Medical evidence, including documentation from mental health professionals, is crucial to demonstrate the severity of the condition. An individual’s inability to work due to anxiety-related impairments and adherence to prescribed treatments will also be considered during the disability benefits evaluation process.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a natural and common emotional response to stress or a perceived threat. It involves apprehension, worry, or fear about future events or uncertain situations. While occasional anxiety is normal, excessive and persistent anxiety can become a mental health disorder.

Is Anxiety a Disability?

Anxiety can be considered a disability if it significantly impairs an individual’s ability to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA). 

To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, an individual must have a condition that prevents them from engaging in substantial gainful activity for at least 12 months or more. SSDI benefits are available to those who have paid into the Social Security system through their work history.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, on the other hand, are based on financial need and are available to disabled individuals who have limited income and resources. SSI benefits for anxiety provide financial assistance to those who cannot work due to a disability, regardless of their work history.

Learn more about SSDI v/s SSI

Is anxiety short term or long term disability?

Anxiety can be both short-term and long-term, depending on the severity, duration, and individual circumstances. Some individuals may experience temporary or situational anxiety, while others may have chronic or long-term anxiety disorders that significantly impact their daily lives. 

In the context of disability benefits, long-term disability due to anxiety typically refers to cases where the condition persists for an extended period, significantly impairing a person’s ability to work and function in daily life.

Common Types of Anxiety

Distinct symptoms and triggers characterize several common types of anxiety disorders. Some of the most prevalent types include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): In GAD, individuals experience excessive worry and anxiety about various aspects of life, even when there’s no specific reason for concern. This chronic anxiety can lead to physical symptoms such as muscle tension, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.
  • Panic Disorder: People with panic disorder experience recurrent and sudden episodes of intense fear or panic, known as panic attacks. These attacks can accompany physical symptoms like a racing heart, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: Also called social phobia, this type involves intense fear of social situations and of being judged or embarrassed by others. People with social anxiety often avoid social interactions to prevent anxiety-related discomfort.
  • Specific Phobias: These involve an intense and irrational fear of a particular object, situation, or activity, such as heights, spiders, or flying. Exposure to the phobic stimulus can trigger severe anxiety. Sometimes, particular phobias can also cause agoraphobia and depression.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): OCD involves intrusive, distressing thoughts (obsessions) that lead to compulsive behaviors or rituals to reduce anxiety. The compulsions are often repetitive actions, like washing hands excessively or arranging objects in a specific way.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD can develop after experiencing a traumatic event. It involves distressing memories, nightmares, flashbacks of the traumatic event, and heightened anxiety and avoidance behaviors.

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

Anxiety symptoms can vary from person to person and depending on the specific type of anxiety disorder. Common symptoms include:

  • Excessive Worry: Feeling anxious or worried most of the time, even when there’s no apparent reason for concern.
  • Restlessness or Irritability: Being unable to relax, feeling on edge, or experiencing irritability.
  • Physical Symptoms: These can include increased heart rate, sweating, trembling, muscle tension, and unease.
  • Difficulty Concentrating: It is hard to focus or concentrate due to racing thoughts or persistent worry.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restless sleep.
  • Fatigue: Feeling tired and drained even without physical exertion.
  • Changes in Appetite: Experiencing changes in appetite, either eating more or less than usual.

7 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Applying For Anxiety Disability Benefits

Before applying for social security disability for anxiety, it’s essential to consider the following questions:

  • How Severe is My Anxiety?
  • Has It Lasted for 12 Months or More?
  • Am I Unable to Work?
  • Am I Receiving Ongoing Treatment?
  • Have I Exhausted Other Options?
  • Can I Provide Medical Documentation?
  • Am I Financially Eligible for SSDI or SSI?

My anxiety meets the criteria for disability benefits. Now what?

Having established that your anxiety meets the criteria for disability benefits, you’re now ready to navigate the application process. Some of the steps are as follows:

  • Gather Documentation: Collect your medical records, treatment history, and any relevant documentation supporting your anxiety’s severity. 
  • Understand Eligibility: Familiarize yourself with the specific eligibility criteria for the disability benefits for anxiety if you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Ensure you meet the medical and financial requirements.
  • Complete the Application: Apply online or visit your local Social Security office to complete the application forms. 
  • Medical Evaluation: The Social Security Administration (SSA) may require you to undergo a medical evaluation by a healthcare professional designated by them. This evaluation helps determine the extent of your anxiety-related disability.
  • Provide Comprehensive Information: Be thorough and specific when describing your anxiety symptoms and their impact. 
  • Stay Informed: Stay informed about the status of your application. You may receive notifications or requests for information from the SSA during the evaluation period.

What if my anxiety doesn’t meet the criteria for disability benefits?

If your anxiety doesn’t initially meet the criteria for disability benefits, you have the option to appeal the decision. The appeal process involves several steps:

  • Request Reconsideration: Begin by requesting a reconsideration of your case. Provide additional medical evidence, documentation, and relevant information that might strengthen your claim.
  • Administrative Law Judge Hearing: If the reconsideration is denied, you can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Prepare to present your case, including medical records and any supportive testimony.
  • Appeals Council Review: If the ALJ’s decision is unfavorable, you can appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council. They will review your case, consider any errors, and determine whether to uphold, modify, or overturn the decision.
  • Federal Court Review: You can take your case to federal court if necessary. This involves filing a lawsuit against the Social Security Administration if you believe your claim was wrongly decided.

3 Tips For Getting Disability With Anxiety

Three crucial tips for navigating the process of obtaining disability benefits for anxiety:

  • Understand Types of Disability Insurance: Familiarize yourself with the types of disability insurance available, such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and private long-term disability insurance. Each has specific eligibility criteria and application processes.
  • Collaborate with Your Doctor: Maintain open communication with your mental health care provider. Their detailed medical records, diagnoses, and assessments of how your anxiety impairs your ability to work are essential in substantiating your claim.
  • Engage a Disability Lawyer: Enlisting the support of an experienced disability attorney can be instrumental. They have the expertise to guide you through paperwork and ensure your application is comprehensive.

How much is the average disability check for anxiety?

The average anxiety disability check is approximately $1,232.97. For individuals who qualify for SSDI, the benefit amount will be $3,627; for SSI, the amount will be $914 monthly in 2023.

Disability Benefits denied? Contact a disability lawyer

Throughout the appeal process, it is advisable to seek legal representation from a social security disability attorney. They can provide expertise, guide you through the process, and present a stronger case for disability benefits for anxiety.

FAQs on anxiety disability benefits

Anxiety-related disability ratings for veterans are determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) using the VA's Schedule for Rating Disabilities. The rating varies based on the severity of the anxiety disorder and its impact on the individual's ability to function. Ratings range from 0% to 100%, with higher percentages indicating more severe disability.
Yes, anxiety can have serious health implications. Chronic and severe anxiety can lead to physical health issues such as high blood pressure, heart problems, digestive disorders, weakened immune function, and sleep disturbances. It also significantly affects mental well-being, quality of life, and daily functioning. Seeking proper treatment and support is crucial for managing the health impact of anxiety.
Health anxiety, also known as illness anxiety disorder, can affect people of various ages, but it often emerges in late adolescence or early adulthood. Individuals in their 20s to 30s are commonly affected, though it can also occur in older adults.