Does Your Anxiety Qualify You for Disability Benefits?

September 19, 2023
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Qualifying for Anxiety Disability California

Crippling anxiety can impact your ability to maintain relationships with friends and family, live your life normally, and provide for yourself. If you cannot work due to your anxiety or mental disorder, you may need financial support. Fortunately, there are multiple government programs overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that make it possible for you to access compensation and benefits. 

Whether you qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you may be able to get help taking care of yourself and your family when you can no longer earn a living. However, many people dealing with anxiety find that SSA representatives tend to deny their claims. Although getting approved for Social Security disability due to an anxiety diagnosis can be complex, it is not impossible. You may need the legal support of an experienced Los Angeles disability lawyer from Pisegna and Zimmerman, LLC to get your denied claim overturned on appeal. Here is more about when anxiety qualifies for disability and what to expect from the appeals process.

Can I get disability for anxiety in California?

There are many different types of anxiety conditions you may be able to collect Social Security disability benefits for. Some of the most common types of anxiety disorders and mental health conditions our clients have been diagnosed with include:

  • Acrophobia
  • Agoraphobia
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia

Unfortunately, even though you can get disability for anxiety and other types of mental health conditions in California, it may be more challenging to do so. If your mental health or anxiety condition is listed on the Social Security Administration’s list of qualifying conditions, you can expect your application to be approved. However, if your condition is not on this list, you may need to provide substantial evidence to support your claim for disability.

If your anxiety condition makes it difficult or impossible for you to complete daily living tasks, take care of yourself, and earn a living, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits could be the answer you have been looking for.

Anxiety disorders are more likely to qualify for disability benefits if they make it difficult or impossible for you to concentrate, leave you feeling irritable all day, disrupt your sleep, cause muscle tension, leave you restless, or result in extreme fatigue. Other types of anxiety disorders, including agoraphobia and panic disorders, may qualify if you suffer from panic attacks or extreme fear in seemingly normal situations, such as driving, eating at a restaurant, grocery shopping, or completing other daily living tasks.

Is it hard to get disability for anxiety?

When you have an experienced Social Security disability lawyer working with you to get your claim approved, it may not be hard to get disability for anxiety. However, since many individuals have been taught to cope with their symptoms alone, it is often more challenging to get SSA representatives to approve claims for anxiety disorders. 

This is typically because the medical evidence used to support these types of diagnoses is subjective. While other types of medical conditions, such as arthritis, can be seen on X-rays and other types of diagnostic imaging, anxiety disorders are different. You may need to present evidence that proves your anxiety is debilitating. 

For example, you may be able to get your application approved more quickly if you can show a history of medical treatment for your anxiety condition. If you have not been treated by mental health providers for your anxiety, you can speak with a social worker or primary care doctor to get a referral to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other professional who can evaluate your condition and determine which treatment options are most likely to improve your quality of life. 

What qualifies for anxiety disability?

You may qualify for anxiety disability benefits if you meet the SSA’s criteria for approval. With anxiety-related disorders, there are multiple types of evidence that will be used to support your case, including reports and opinions from your healthcare providers and copies of your medical records in addition to your personal testimony. If your anxiety disorder prevents you from working in any type of full-time job, you may have a severe impairment that is on the SSA’s list of qualifying conditions. The requirements for SSDI or SSI approval for an anxiety condition are as follows:

You must be diagnosed with:

  • Constant generalized anxiety disorder with at least three of the four following symptoms: apprehensive expectation, motor attention, autonomic hyperactivity, and vigilance or scanning.
  • Recurring debilitating panic attacks with unpredictable episodes of doom, intense fear, terror, and apprehension at least once weekly
  • Marked distress caused by obsessive or compulsive recurring behaviors
  • Constant irrational fear of activities, situations, or objects that cause you to avoid these activities, situations, or objects
  • Anxiety and distress due to flashbacks of traumatic experiences

In addition to these requirements, you must be completely unable to function independently outside of your home or have a minimum of two of the following:

  • A period of decompensation that extends for a substantial period of time
  • Severe trouble maintaining your concentration
  • Incapable of maintaining your ability to function socially
  • Your routine daily activities are severely restricted
  • You have severe trouble being persistent

How much disability can you get for anxiety?

The amount of disability benefits you can collect when you are approved for SSDI or SSI varies annually. The amount is updated each year to account for inflation. If you are approved for SSI benefits, in 2023, the most an individual can expect to receive each month is $914 or $1,371 for a couple. 

However, if you are approved for SSDI benefits, this amount may be much greater. As of 2023, maximum monthly payments are capped at $3,627. This amount will continue to increase in 2024 and every year after that.

How to improve your chances of getting approved for disability after an anxiety diagnosis

To improve your chances of getting your disability application approved when diagnosed with an anxiety condition, you should:

  • Document your anxiety, depression, and medical history
  • Obtain copies of your medical records
  • Obtain a medical evaluation from a mental health care provider or psychiatrist
  • Provide proof that you have received treatment for your anxiety condition, such as a prescription for an antidepressant or antianxiety drug
  • Follow your healthcare provider’s treatment plan, including taking any prescription medications or following up with psychiatrists for regular mental health counseling
  • Make sure your healthcare provider takes detailed notes about your medical condition and includes specific information about your treatment plan, the severity of your symptoms, and the impact your condition has on your life

It is not uncommon for the SSA to determine that anxiety disorders are not severe enough to be considered totally disabling. Many of these types of mental health conditions can be exacerbated when there are external factors that can increase stress and put additional pressure on the individual dealing with anxiety. For this reason, you should be prepared to work with a disability attorney in Los Angeles to ensure your application for anxiety disability benefits is comprehensive.

What to do if your claim for disability is denied

Despite the fact that many anxiety claims for disability are denied, there are several steps you can take to get your denial overturned.

Connect with a disability attorney

First and foremost, make sure you get help from a long-term disability lawyer. Your Los Angeles SSDI attorney will be able to review the SSA’s reasoning for denying your claim. In many instances, by providing SSA representatives with additional supporting documentation or evidence, they can reverse your denial. However, if it appears your claim has been wrongfully denied, your disability lawyer can help you and review your options for appeal.

Consider your options for appeal

There are several stages of the SSD appeals process. It may not be necessary to go through each stage before your denial is eventually overturned.


The first stage is your reconsideration request. Here, you are asking another SSA representative who did not initially review your application to take a second look at your case.

Administrative Law Judge Hearing 

If your reconsideration request is denied or the SSA representative upholds the initial decision to deny your application, you can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Most SSD appeals are resolved at this level of the appeals process.

Appeals Council Review

If the ALJ presiding over your appeal agrees with the initial decision to deny your SSD application, you may be able to proceed with an Appeals Council Review.

Federal District Court Hearing

If the Appeals Council upholds the decision to deny your SSD application, the last opportunity to get your denial overturned is to proceed with a hearing in federal District Court.

Get in touch with a disability lawyer in Los Angeles 

If you struggle to cope with your anxiety disorder daily, you may have the right to disability benefits. Even if your initial claim is denied, the appeals process may be the best way to get your denial reversed. 

With help from a knowledgeable and experienced Los Angeles disability attorney at Pisegna and Zimmerman, LLC, you can fight for the financial support you need. Get started on your disability appeal when you contact us or fill out our quick contact form to learn more about us and schedule your no-cost, risk-free consultation today.

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