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, such as mental illness like agoraphobia?
What is Agoraphobia, and Can I Get Disability Benefits for it?
Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that causes you to avoid places or situations that make you feel afraid, trapped, embarrassed or helpless. Agoraphobia causes one to fear an actual or anticipated situation, such as being in crowds, using public transportation, or being in confined spaces. Those who suffer from agoraphobia 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 public 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 heartbeat, trouble breathing, numbness in your hands and feet, dizziness and an upset stomach.
If you are suffering from these symptoms and unable to work, talk to SSDI lawyer in PA who can help you get the help you need.
What Constitutes a Panic Disorder?
A Panic Disorder is a condition characterized by unexpected episodes of intense anxiety or fear. These may be accompanied by physical symptoms such as chest pains, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and abdominal distress. These symptoms may mimic a heart attack or other critical medical conditions.
Panic attacks are often triggered by agoraphobia. Alternatively, agoraphobia can be triggered by panic attacks. Both can be true. Many people with agoraphobia seldom leave their homes and only go to very familiar places due to the panic attacks that can accompany agoraphobia.
Fortunately, Social Security does recognize agoraphobia with or without panic attacks as a disorder. Under Listing 12:06 of the Social Security Agency manual uses to determine whether or not someone meets the requirements for disability. This makes it significantly easier to get approved for benefits.
How Do I Prove That Agoraphobia and Panic Attacks Have Left Me Unable to Work?
Getting an opinion from your mental health provider is critical in getting your Social Security benefits. This can be done by having them provide their opinion in a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form. If you are seeking social security benefits for agoraphobia, the completed form should include a formal diagnosis and discuss your ability or inability to:
- Interact appropriately with the public and maintain appropriate attendance. This involves missing two or more days of work each month. In other words, can you prove that you cannot work full time because of your condition?
- Maintain focused attention and concentration.
- Follow instructions. This includes both simple and complex tasks.
- Have the capacity to make decisions in the workplace.
- Handle stress.
You can also seek the help of a qualified social security attorney who can advise you on submitting a “statement of claimant” about your condition. This does not have to be a very long statement, but it should outline your personal struggle with your condition, in your own words. Be sure to highlight any inability to be out among the general public.
Getting Disability Benefits for Agoraphobia or Panic Attack Disorders
Getting disability for agoraphobia often comes down to proving that you meet the listed requirements above 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 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 a social security disability PA attorney’s guidance and advice very helpful.
Source: Social Security, “Disability Evaluations Under Social Security 12:00 Mental Disorders – Adult,” accessed Jan. 03, 2017