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 normal life.
What is Agoraphobia?
Agoraphobia is considered to be 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 home as a safe zone, and leaving the home for any purpose will result in severe panic attacks that can be debilitating.
Agoraphobia is the most common phobia in the United States, and it is estimated that over three million Americans are currently suffering from the disorder. Women between the ages of 20 and 40 are most likely to develop the disorder, and medical research indicates that the disorder tends to be a result of a panic disorder instead of an independent condition.
A diagnosis of agoraphobia must be made by a mental health professional. The process for determining whether an individual suffers from the anxiety disorder involves observing the individual in a public situation in order to find out if the individual typically suffers from panic attacks in these types of situations.
Determining Social Security Disability Eligibility
Whether a person who suffers from agoraphobia is eligible for SSDI will depend on whether the disorder prevents the person from maintaining a job. Individuals who are found eligible to receive SSDI benefits must be unable to reasonably perform job tasks. Research indicates that agoraphobia can be considered to be a form of panic attack, so the SSDI eligibility of people who are living with agoraphobia will involve the same evaluation as panic attacks.
A disabling level of agoraphobia is automatically assume to exist if the following elements are met:
Intense feeling of fear and an overall sense of doom must be experienced a minimum of one day per week, and these episodes may not be predictable in nature.
Episodes must interfere with the ability of the sufferer to engage in social activities, leave the house, focus on tasks or provide basic personal care. At least one of these abilities must be severely limited by agoraphobia for eligibility purposes.
Even if an individual’s condition does not perfectly match the above elements, Social Security may still find them disabled based on other evidence. 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 suffer from agoraphobia must evaluate an 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 serious treatment with a mental health professional in order to confirm that the condition and symptoms are persisting in spite of treatment.
Agoraphobia is a debilitating disease that often results in the complete inability of an individual to work. Contact a legal professional in order to learn how to collect SSDI benefits when suffering from this panic disorder.