Can I Qualify For Disability Benefits With Anxiety?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a disorder characterized by feelings of stress, tension, worry and apprehension.  To qualify for disability benefits based on anxiety, your condition must be more than general worrying over specific events.  Your condition must be so severe and overwhelming that it affects your activities of daily living and prevents you from working.

Symptoms associated with anxiety often include:

  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability or explosive anger
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Personality changes, such as becoming less social

Social Security Administration (SSA) regulations state that your anxiety, or any other condition or illness, must be severe and prevent you from performing substantial gainful activity for at least 12 months.  SSA will first assess your case under Listing 12.06 to see if you qualify by meeting the listing criteria.  If you do not meet the listing for anxiety, you can still qualify for Social Security Disability benefits through the medical-vocational allowance.

12.06 Anxiety-related disorders: In these disorders anxiety is either the predominant disturbance or it is experienced if 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.

The required level of severity for these disorders is met when the requirements in both A and B are satisfied, or when the requirements in both A and C are satisfied.

A. Medically documented findings of at least one of the following:

1. Generalized persistent anxiety accompanied by three out of four of the following signs or symptoms:

a. Motor tension; or

b. Autonomic hyperactivity; or

c. Apprehensive expectation; or

d. Vigilance and scanning; or

2. A persistent irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation which results in a compelling desire to avoid the dreaded object, activity, or situation; or

3. 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

4. Recurrent obsessions or compulsions which are a source of marked distress; or

5. Recurrent and intrusive recollections of a traumatic experience, which are a source of marked distress;

AND

B. Resulting in at least two of the following:

1. Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or

2. Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or

3. Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or

4. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration.

OR

C. Resulting in complete inability to function independently outside the area of one’s home.