Getting approved for Social Security disability benefits can be difficult enough if you have a condition that can be demonstrated through lab tests, like blood work and x-rays. What happens if your disability is psychological, like agoraphobia?
Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that causes you to avoid places or situations that make you feel afraid or trapped. Sufferers often also have panic attacks as well, and a variety of other manifestations of the disorder are common:
— Social symptoms, including the inability to handle being in crowded places or to function independently outside of your “comfort zone” without help from someone close to you, like a family member
— Psychological symptoms, including a sense of terror, helplessness and a loss of control
— Physical symptoms, including a rapid heart beat, trouble breathing, numbness in your hands and feet, dizziness and an upset stomach
Panic attacks, which cause intense feelings of extreme fear and can even make you feel like you are dying, often accompany agoraphobia and can even trigger the condition. Many people with agoraphobia seldom leave their homes and only go to very familiar places.
Fortunately, Social Security does recognize agoraphobia with or without panic attacks as a disorder under Listing 12:06 of the manual the agency uses to determine whether or not someone meets the requirements for disability. This actually makes it easier to get approved for benefits than if your condition isn’t specifically listed.
The trick is often proving that you meet the listed requirements because the requirements state that you have to have “medical evidence” of your condition. Unless you happened to have a spell of agoraphobia or a panic attack right in front of your psychiatrist or physician, the odds are good that your doctor is going to have to rely on you to report your symptoms.
That’s why it’s particularly important to try to maintain a relationship with a therapist or physician with whom you feel comfortable discussing your psychological problems. Your doctor’s evaluation of your candor and credibility are important parts of SSA evaluation — and they will examine your doctor’s notes for signs of consistency in the way that you report your symptoms.
Getting approved for Social Security due to agoraphobia with or without panic attacks isn’t impossible but it can be difficult. Anyone having a hard time getting approved may find an attorney’s guidance and advice very helpful.
Source: Social Security, “Disability Evaluations Under Social Security 12:00 Mental Disorders – Adult,” accessed Jan. 03, 2017