Is Agoraphobia a Disability?
Agoraphobia, an anxiety disorder characterized by intense fear and anxiety of being in an enclosed space, is one of the most common phobias experienced by people in the United States. Some sources estimate that over three million Americans are suffering from the disorder today. Women between the ages of 20 and 40 are more likely to develop the disorder than the rest of the population. People with agoraphobia tend to engage in avoidance behavior, such as refusing to be alone outside of the home or traveling in an automobile.
Medical research indicates that the disorder tends to manifest as a type of panic disorder instead of an independent condition. Millions of Americans are living with debilitating panic attacks related to agoraphobia. Some sufferers have an anxiety disorder that is so severe that it prevents them from leaving home. People who have severe agoraphobia may not be able to work because their condition does not allow them to lead a healthy life.
Agoraphobia is characterized as an anxiety disorder. While the literal meaning of the word implies that sufferers are afraid of being in open spaces, most people who are living with agoraphobia are specifically plagued with a fear of experiencing a panic attack while in a public place.
Severe cases of agoraphobia result in the inability of the sufferer to leave their home. The individual views the house as a safe zone, and leaving the safety of the home for any purpose can result in severe panic attacks that can be debilitating. Getting disability benefits for agoraphobia can be a daunting task as the symptoms are hard to document.
How You Can Qualify or Disability for Agoraphobia?
Agoraphobia is a debilitating disease that often results in the complete inability of an individual to work. Whether a person who has agoraphobia is eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) will depend on whether the disorder prevents the person from maintaining gainful employment. Individuals who are found eligible to receive SSDI benefits must be unable to perform reasonable job tasks. One of the primary symptoms of agoraphobia are panic attacks. Therefore, the disability criteria for establishing benefits due to agoraphobia will involve an evaluation of your panic attacks.
A diagnosis of agoraphobia must be made by a mental health professional. Determining whether an individual suffers from an anxiety disorder involves observation of the individual in a clinical setting. The SSA will consider the opinion of your mental health provider on the extent of your limitations. In cases of agoraphobia, your mental health provider should remark on any inability to interact appropriately with the public, maintain appropriate work attendance, navigate stressful situations, make appropriate judgments, concentrate on tasks, and follow instructions.
Your medical evidence should demonstrate the degree and frequency of panic attacks or anxiety episodes that you experience, and whether they interfere with your ability to function in normal social or work-related environments.
Qualifying for Agoraphobia SSI/SSDI benefits
The Social Security Administration has classified agoraphobia as an anxiety disorder in its listing of impairments, known as the Blue Book, under section 12.06. In order to receive approval for SSDI benefits due to agoraphobia, you must have medical documentation of the symptoms and meet the other criteria set by the Blue Book.
Remember, Social Security cannot rely solely on a claimant’s description of their condition and symptoms. A medical professional who has experience in diagnosing individuals who have agoraphobia must evaluate the individual and record the diagnosis. Paperwork related to this diagnosis should be retained as a form of proof of disability.
Social Security also typically will want to see evidence of acute treatment with a mental health professional to confirm that the condition and symptoms are persisting despite treatment.
People with agoraphobia commonly experience fear and anxiety related to:
- Staying alone in a social situation
- Leaving their home for a period of time
- Boarding a vehicle or elevator.
- Crowds and public places
You must have medical documentation of at least one of the following symptoms:
- Panic attacks with persistent worrying
- Disproportionate fear or anxiety to at least two triggering situations
You must have records from a licensed doctor or a mental health professional stating that you are suffering and experiencing these symptoms related to your agoraphobia. If an applicant is suffering from severe agoraphobia, the situation is likely to limit their ability to work.
Your application should also include medical documentation that the condition interferes with mental functions, such as the ability to concentrate and interact with others, or that the condition is serious and persistent, as defined by SSA regulations.
Get help From an Experienced Disability Lawyer
If agoraphobia limits your ability to work, you can file a Social Security Disability claim. Get in touch with us, and we will help you determine if you meet the eligibility criteria or not and guide you through the application process. Schedule a consultation with us. Our team of qualified professionals will help to assist you at every step.