Yes, you can get disability for anxiety, but doing so is not an easy task. Your anxiety must meet the benchmarks set by the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Listing of Impairments. The organization uses these criteria to evaluate the severity of physical and mental conditions. Also, you must satisfy other requirements, like being unable to work in a gainful capacity because of your anxiety.
There are two programs overseen by the SSA that provides monthly benefits to people with disabilities: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Each program has different eligibility criteria. It is possible to collect benefits from both programs, but you must apply separately to each one.
An Overview of SSDI
You pay for the SSDI program with the Social Security taxes your employer takes out of your paycheck. For this reason, you can only collect SSDI benefits if you accumulated enough “work credits.” The SSA gives you one work credit for every three-month period in which you worked at a job that participated in Social Security taxes. Every year, you can earn up to four work credits.
People typically need at least 40 work credits to be eligible for SSDI benefits. The exact number you need will depend on the age of when you became disabled. Younger workers do not need as many credits as older people because they have not had as much time to amass them.
If you make too much money, the SSA will deny your request for SSDI benefits, no matter how severe your anxiety disorder is. For 2020, the SSA earnings limit is $1,260 per month for non-blind individuals and $2,110 a month for people who are statutorily blind.
A Quick Look at the SSI Program
The SSI program does not require you to have any work credits, but it is restrictive on the amount of income and assets you have. For example, the SSA says that your financial resources cannot exceed $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 total for a couple. Fortunately, the SSA does not count all of your assets toward this limit.
Your countable income will offset your monthly SSI check. The SSA does not count everything as income. By way of example, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly called food stamps) do not count against the income limit, but some other benefits, like unemployment benefits, do.
How the SSA Determines If Someone Is Disabled for SSDI or SSI
SSDI and SSI use the same standards to determine if someone is disabled. Your medical condition must be significant enough to meet the severity tests of the Listing of Impairments (also called “the Blue Book”) that the SSA uses to evaluate applications for disability benefits.
In addition to the medical tests, your condition must impede your ability to engage in substantial gainful activity. The SSA will also explore whether you could be gainfully employed if you got more education or job skills training. Based on their findings, the SSA may rule that you are not disabled.
Finally, your medical condition cannot be short-term.
The SSA requires that your medical condition:
- Has been a significant impairment for at least 12 months, or
- Medical experts anticipate that it will last for at least 12 months, or
- Your condition will result in your passing
If you do not fall into at least one of those categories, your application may not meet the duration criteria.
The Blue Book Severity Tests for Anxiety
Section 12.06 of the SSA’s Listing of Impairments sets the parameters for anxiety disorders that qualify for disability benefits. The SSA requires medical documentation of your symptoms and how they affect your life to be eligible for the SSDI or SSI program.
Any of these three conditions could make you eligible for benefits:
- An anxiety disorder that causes at least three of these issues: tense muscles, sleep disorders, fatigue, feeling irritable, struggling to maintain attention, lack of stamina, and being restless.
- Panic disorder or agoraphobia, with at least one of these symptoms: panic attacks with constant worry about the next panic attack, or extreme anxiety or fear of at least two different scenarios, like standing in line or leaving your home.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), with at least one of these signs: being unable to stop focusing on undesired thoughts, or trying to manage anxiety through repetitive behaviors.
The Listing of Impairments also requires that the medical condition either causes substantial limitation in your mental functioning or, despite at least two years of medical interventions, you have a nominal capacity to adjust to changes in your daily life.
Get Help Filing for Disability Benefits
If you have questions about whether you can get disability benefits for anxiety, a Social Security Disability attorney at George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers could help. You can call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.