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Can people with serious social anxiety disorder qualify for SSDI benefits?

Too many people still minimize the impact of a social anxiety disorder (SAD) on those who suffer from it. However, if you or someone you love is one of those sufferers, you know it can be as devastating to your life – and your ability to work — as many physical disorders.

But can someone who is diagnosed with SAD qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)? The Social Security Administration (SSA) includes a number of mental disorders in its list of recognized impairments that may qualify someone to receive SSDI, including “anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders.” 

What evidence and information are needed?

To qualify for SSDI for SAD, a person needs to provide medical documentation of their disorder and have extreme or marked limitations in areas of mental functioning like the ability to interact with others and the ability to adapt and manage themselves. 

They may also be able to qualify if the condition is “serious and persistent” – meaning they’ve suffered from it for at least two years and undergone treatment or therapy, but still only have a “minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life.”

Mental disorders can often be more difficult to prove than physical ones for purposes of obtaining SSDI. In addition to documentation regarding the treatment, you may need to provide statements from family, social workers and managers. It’s also crucial that you provide documentation describing in detail what triggers your anxiety attacks, how frequently they occur, how long they last and how they affect your ability to work or function at all.

If you’re suffering from SAD that has made it impossible for you to work and you’re having difficulty getting approval for SSDI benefits, it may be wise to seek guidance from someone who can help you have the best chance of getting the benefits you need.