If you are struggling to hold a job owing to your panic disorder, you may be eligible for monthly benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). If we go by the numbers, 1.1 million workers got approved for disability benefits through the SSA due to their mental health conditions such as panic disorder.

To help the disability applicants, we will let you learn the types of panic disorders that qualify for disability benefits, how to apply, and what to do if you do not meet the criteria of the SSA. 

Is Panic Disorder A Disability?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes panic disorder as a disabling condition, but the process of proving its severity to qualify for disability benefits can be demanding. 

The SSA has strict criteria for mental health conditions, making it essential to provide thorough evidence that your panic disorder significantly impairs your ability to work. Meeting these criteria may require a comprehensive understanding of the SSA’s guidelines or assistance from an experienced disability attorney to navigate the complexities of the application process.

What Are Panic Attacks?

Panic attacks are intense episodes of sudden and overwhelming fear or anxiety that can come on unexpectedly. They often peak within minutes and can cause various physical and emotional symptoms, including shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, trembling, sweating, and a sense of impending doom. These attacks can be debilitating and may interfere with daily activities, making them a significant concern for those who experience them.

Types Of Panic Disorder

Panic disorder manifests in different types, each characterized by distinct symptoms and triggers. Some common types are as follows:

Unexpected Panic Attacks: These occur suddenly and without an apparent trigger, leading to intense anxiety or depression.

Situationally-Bound Panic Attacks: Triggered by specific situations, such as crowded places or enclosed spaces.

Situationally-Predisposed Panic Attacks: These are more likely to occur in certain situations but are not exclusively tied to them.

Childhood-Onset Panic Disorder: When symptoms manifest during childhood, impacting development and daily functioning.

Understanding the specific type of panic disorder can aid in effectively managing and seeking support for the condition. Some types of panic disorders that the SSA considers are social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), phobias, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression.

Symptoms Of Panic Disorder

Panic disorder symptoms include the following:

  • Sudden and intense feelings of fear
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • A sense of impending doom

These symptoms can lead to avoidance behaviors and impact daily life.

Can I Get Disability For Anxiety And Panic Attacks?

Yes, it is feasible to obtain disability benefits for a panic disorder, but meeting the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) stringent criteria for mental health conditions can be challenging. 

Proving that your disorder renders you unable to work is crucial. Qualification becomes more achievable if panic attacks coexist with other qualifying conditions or if you’re 50 or older

Collaborating with a skilled disability attorney increases your chances of approval, especially if you have an additional qualifying condition. 

Questions To Ask Yourself Before Applying

If your answer is yes to the questions mentioned below, you may be eligible for the benefits:

  •   Are you experiencing a hard time ignoring distractions while at work?
  •   Are you finding it hard to maintain consistency in your work?
  •   Do you struggle to understand instructions?
  •   Are you struggling to do daily activities such as getting dressed or cooking?
  •   Are you facing difficulty in handling changes?

How Do You Get Disability For Panic Disorder?

Getting disability benefits for panic disorder involves navigating the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) criteria. Some steps are as follows:

  • Medical Documentation: Gather comprehensive medical records, including diagnoses, treatment plans, and medication history.
  • Symptom Details: Clearly outline how panic attacks impact your daily life, making it challenging to maintain employment.
  • Work History: Provide a detailed work history, emphasizing the difficulties faced due to panic disorder, potentially leading to loss of employment.
  • Collaboration with Healthcare Providers: Work closely with mental health professionals who can offer expert opinions and support your disability claim.

Eligibility Criteria For Panic Disorder

The SSA has strict guidelines for evaluating panic disorder disability. They will look at the medical records that limit your capability to work or the medical treatment you are taking. Just having a doctor will not be enough to qualify you for the benefits.

Three fundamental criteria that you need to prove that you are struggling with panic disorder disability are as follows:

  • You are experiencing regular and persistent symptoms that are limiting your capability to work, and your disorder is long-term.
  • You are experiencing frequent panic attacks and your health is negatively affected by the attacks.
  • You experience regular anxiety and fear in either crowd, waiting in line, or using public transport.
  • You need to prove that your panic disorder is limiting your capability to work.

Furthermore, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will evaluate your mental functioning in four fundamental areas:

  •  Social Interaction
  • Adapting oneself according to the situation
  •  Understanding or remembering information
  •  Problems in focusing or finishing tasks within the deadline assigned

The SSA will also need medical records that will prove that your panic disability is putting extreme limitations on at least one or more of the areas mentioned above.

NOTE: Extreme limitation refers to the limitation that makes you unable to function independently in one or more areas.  

You also need to prove that your panic attacks have been lasting for at least 2 years or more. Moreover, you cannot adapt to changes even with medical treatment, care, and support.  

How Much Is The Disability For Panic Disorder?

Individuals with panic disorder or similar mental health conditions may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, and the average monthly payment for such disorders is $1,232.97. However, the amount depends on the benefits received and the individual’s work and income history. 

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), suitable for those with a work history of at least five of the past 10 years, offers a maximum payment of approximately $3,822 per month in 2024. 

On the other hand, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), designed for low-income individuals with limited work history, provides a maximum benefit of $943 per month in 2024. Applicants must consider their eligibility and the specific benefits they qualify for based on their circumstances.

What If I Meet The Eligibility Criteria For Panic Disorder?

If your panic disorder meets the SSA mentioned above’s criteria, you must apply for the benefits as soon as possible. The process is complex and time-consuming. Therefore, you must follow the guidelines mentioned below.

  • You must apply now if you have been diagnosed with panic disorder and your health condition is making it impossible to hold a job.
  • You must wait and apply later if your symptoms can be managed and you are still working.
  • You must not apply if your symptoms are allowing you to work and earn more than $1,400 per month. 

What If I Do Not Meet The Eligibility Criteria For Panic Disorder?

Suppose you do not meet the panic disorder eligibility criteria to qualify for disability benefits. In that case, it’s essential to understand that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has strict guidelines for mental health conditions. 

In such situations, it can be challenging to prove the severity of your condition to the extent that it renders you unable to work. 

It’s crucial to carefully review the SSA’s specific criteria and gather comprehensive medical documentation to support your case. If you face denial or difficulty meeting the criteria, seeking legal assistance becomes a valuable option. 

A Social Security Disability Lawyer can provide guidance, assess your case, and assist in navigating the appeals process. They can help strengthen your application, address shortcomings, and increase the likelihood of a successful claim.