How Severe Does My Anxiety Have To Be To Get Disability Benefits?

Anxiety disorders can range in severity. Some individuals struggle with anxiety to such a degree that it interferes with their daily life.

Does this sound familiar? If your anxiety is particularly severe, you may be eligible to receive disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA).

One of the best ways to determine if your anxiety is strong enough to render you eligible for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits is to discuss the matter with an attorney when applying for benefits. However, this overview will provide you with certain important information about the topic.

Blue Book Listing for Anxiety

The SSA offers the “Blue Book” as a resource describing the hundreds of mental and physical conditions that may qualify someone for disability benefits. Per the Blue Book’s listing, a person may have an anxiety disorder if they experience at least three of the following symptoms:

  • Restlessness
  • Being prone to fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances

Showing you have three of those symptoms is just one step in proving to the SSA that your anxiety disorder is severe enough that you qualify for benefits from the SSA. You must also either show that your disorder causes “extreme” or “marked limitation” of at least two key areas of mental functioning, or that your anxiety disorder qualifies as “serious and persistent.”

The areas of mental functioning that a severe anxiety disorder may limit are:

  • Your ability to understand, recall, and/or apply information you’ve learned
  • Ability to interact with other people
  • Ability to maintain concentration or pace
  • General ability to manage yourself or adapt to new life situations, environments, etc.

Your anxiety disorder may qualify as “serious and persistent” if you have received documented medical treatment for your condition for at least two years and you can provide evidence that:

  • You receive some form of medical treatment, therapy, or support that positively impacts the symptoms of your condition and is currently ongoing, and
  • Your ability to adapt to environmental changes or changes in your daily demands is minimal.

Proving Your Anxiety is Severe Enough for SSD

Gathering documentation to show your anxiety disorder meets the criteria in the above section of this guide is key to showing you qualify for disability benefits because of the severity of your disorder.

Other steps you may take include:

You do not need to gather all the necessary documentation yourself. A lawyer with experience handling anxiety disorder and disability benefits cases may be able to assist you with this task.

Applying for Disability Benefits

When applying for SSD, it is important to be aware that the SSA denies two-thirds of all initial applications. Reasons the SSA may deny a claim include (but are not necessarily limited to) the following:

  • Technical problems with an application
  • Lack of sufficient medical information

This is not meant to discourage you from seeking benefits. Rather, it is meant to highlight the value of coordinating with a professional who can help with your application or an appeal.

Get Help With Your Disability Claim

A health condition does not need to consist of a physical injury or illness to qualify someone for disability benefits. In some cases, a severe mental or emotional health condition such as an anxiety disorder may also meet the SSA’s criteria.

That said, securing the benefits for which you may be eligible can prove challenging if you lack experience with these matters. This is one of many reasons it’s wise to consult with an anxiety disorders and disability benefits attorney. Their assistance may play a vital role in your case. For more information, complete the Free Case Evaluation on this page to schedule a free consultation.

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