Panic disorder is a severe anxiety disorder causing recurring panic attacks. During a panic attack, a person suffers fear and anxiety so debilitating them often seeks emergency room treatment. Many people diagnosed with panic disorder also have agoraphobia (fear of open or unknown spaces) or claustrophobia (fear of enclosed places). In addition, individuals affected by panic disorder constantly worry about having more panic attacks in the future, which exacerbates their anxiety and fear of dying of a panic attack.
Will the SSA Approve Someone for Panic Disorder Disability Benefits?
The Social Security Administration does approve people diagnosed with panic disorder if they meet criteria listed under their Blue Book’s anxiety and panic disorder listing. Disability benefits may be awarded if an applicant can provide medical documentation proving:
- A clinical diagnosis of panic disorder given by a psychiatrist or other healthcare professional specializing in mental disorders
- Severe fear and anxiety that debilitates the applicant enough to prevent them from going out in public, driving a car, waiting in line, being in crowded areas or simply walking outside their home
- Inability to interact with others without suffering extreme fear, anxiety and panic
- Inability to concentrate enough to complete tasks (must show this directly impacts an applicant’s ability to maintain employment)
Medical documentation necessary to be approved for panic disorder disability must further show that the applicant has a “consistent relationship” with qualified mental health professionals who have been prescribing medications to help treat panic disorder. If you just recently began suffering panic attacks (less than one year), the SSA will probably deny your disability benefits claim.
Can You Still Get Panic Disorder Disability If Criteria are Unmet?
If panic attacks prevent an applicant from keeping a job, the SSA may approve a type of disability benefits called “medical vocational allowance” benefits. Since it is often difficult to be approved for either SSD or a medical vocational allowance for panic disorder, most people suffering recurring panic attacks rely on a disability lawyer to manage their claim.