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Anxiety is a mental disorder that can result in being unable to work and eligibility for disability benefits. Having some anxiety is normal. Because anxiety is a normal coping mechanism that can help us deal with stress. When you suffer from anxiety, the symptoms can have a negative impact on your work and home life. You may not want to leave home, see your friends, or go to work because it causes too much panic. Sometimes, even thinking about doing these activities can create a panic attack.

Those who live with anxiety can experience panic attacks. Sometimes those panic attacks have a trigger, but there may be times when they have no discernible cause. Many people who live with an anxiety disorder have to deal with feelings of fear and panic. Additionally, physical symptoms can occur, such as increased heart rate, muscle tension, nausea, and sweating. If you have these symptoms, do you have anxiety that qualifies for disability benefits?

anxiety disability benefits


While there are many anxiety symptoms, the SSA has a specific definition for anxiety. The SSA defines anxiety disorder under Listed Impairment 12.06. If you have anxiety, then your medical records will document  symptoms. SSA requires all of the symptoms to meet listing 12.06. The elements of the listing are outlined below.


12.06 Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders (see 12.00B5), satisfied by A and B, or A and C:

  1. Medical documentation of the requirements of paragraph 1, 2, or 3:
    1. Anxiety disorder, characterized by three or more of the following;
      1. Restlessness;
      2. Easily fatigued;
      3. Difficulty concentrating;
      4. Irritability;
      5. Muscle tension; or
      6. Sleep disturbance.
    2. Panic disorder or agoraphobia, characterized by one or both:
      1. Panic attacks followed by a persistent concern or worry about additional panic attacks or their consequences; or
      2. Disproportionate fear or anxiety about at least two different situations (for example, using public transportation, being in a crowd, being in a line, being outside of your home, being in open spaces).
    3. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, characterized by one or both:
      1. Involuntary, time-consuming preoccupation with intrusive, unwanted thoughts; or
      2. Repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety.


  1. Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning (see 12.00F):
    1. Understand, remember, or apply information (see 12.00E1).
    2. Interact with others (see 12.00E2).
    3. Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace (see 12.00E3).
    4. Adapt or manage oneself (see 12.00E4).


  1. Your mental disorder in this listing category is “serious and persistent;” that is, you have a medically documented history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least 2 years, and there is evidence of both:
    1. Medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or a highly structured setting(s) that is ongoing and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of your mental disorder (see 12.00G2b); and
    2. Marginal adjustment, that is, you have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life (see 12.00G2c).


Since the severity of an anxiety disorder can be hard to prove, many of the Social Security Disability applications based on anxiety disorders are denied right after they apply for benefits. In fact, only 30 percent of initial Social Security Disability applications are approved without the need for an appeal. The remaining 70 percent of applicants must go through an appeals process in order to obtain the disability benefits they deserve.

If you need assistance applying for disability benefits you should hire an attorney to help you with your case. At Cannon Disability Law, we can help you apply for benefits and appeal an SSA denial. You only have 60 days to appeal a denial from the SSA, so don’t delay calling our office. In fact, we can answer your questions over the phone at no cost to you.

It is always our goal to win disability benefits for our clients. In order to win benefits, you will need mental health treatment. We have free and low cost mental health sources on this website.  We have won over $100 million in back benefits for our clients. Put our experience to work for you. Hire the Cannon Disability Law legal team.

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