Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I have applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for severe anxiety disorder three times. Each time the Social Security Administration (SSA) has denied my case. I am wondering what I should do? Every time I try to work I end up getting fired because I miss too much work.”
SSDI and anxiety disorder overview
Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI is awarded to claimants who have worked and earned sufficient work credits to be insured and who have a severe mental or physical health condition which does not allow them to work for at least 12 continuous months. Claimants who do not have enough work credits or who do not have enough medical evidence to prove they cannot work will be automatically denied benefits.
Now, you mentioned that you have been denied three times for disability benefits. You did not specifically mention why you were denied, but we’ll assume that you have work credits and you are insured. If you are not insured, then you will either have to go back to work and earn more work credits or apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Work credits cannot be bought or borrowed.
Proving your anxiety disorder is so severe and you cannot work
Assuming you meet all the nonmedical requirements for SSDI, the next hurdle is having enough medical evidence to prove you cannot work. This can be done in one of two ways: meeting a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments or proving through a medical vocational allowance that you do not have the capacity to work.
Unfortunately, it’s generally more difficult to prove you cannot work with a mental rather than physical disability. Mental disabilities are less obvious to observe. In fact, you may be the only one who really understands your struggles. To others, you may seem perfectly normal and capable of employment. With that in mind, it’s important to take the following steps.
Steps to win disability for anxiety disorder
- Get good medical care, including talking to a mental health professional.
Although medical care can be very expensive, winning SSDI for a mental health disorder will require that you prove that you have done everything possible to get the help you need. You will need to talk to a psychologist or psychiatrist. You will need to follow their prescribed treatment plan, including taking the medication they prescribe, and you will need them to document the limitations you have to maintain employment.
- Consider talking to a disability lawyer about your anxiety disorder.
Although no one likes to pay for a lawyer to help them win benefits they believe they are entitled to receive, in some cases, disability hiring a lawyer may be the key to winning your disability case.
- Review your medical evidence with your lawyer and determine what additional information you need to prove your anxiety disorder is severe.
As mentioned above, winning your case will depend on your medical evidence. If you can prove your condition meets a listing in the SSA Listing of Impairments, you will have the best chance to win benefits.. Review the SSA Listing of Impairments, Listing 12.00 Mental Disorders, Section 12.06 Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Not only will you need a diagnosis which matches or equals a listing, you will also need symptoms which are as severe as the listed symptoms.
Most disability claimants are denied benefits the first time they apply. If you have applied three times and been denied, you will need to take more aggressive steps to win benefits for your anxiety disorder.