Approximately 10 percent of people in the United States suffer from at least one panic attack per year. When panic attacks are severe or experienced frequently, they can disrupt the lives of those who suffer from them, and panic attacks can affect an individual’s ability to work. Many people who can no longer work because of panic attacks have applied for and been approved to receive benefits from the Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) program.
What Are Panic Attacks?
Panic attacks are the name given to a psychological condition in which patients suddenly and inexplicably experience intense anxiety, fear or distress. The fact that the episodes come on without warning or cause is what differentiates panic attacks from other forms of anxiety. Although the feelings are completely out of proportion with the circumstance or situation, patients do not have the ability to stop or alleviate episodes. Common symptoms of panic attacks are as follows:
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Tingling sensations or shivering
Panic attacks are not dangerous in and of themselves. However, the terror experienced by patients may cause them to act in an irrational manner or lose control of their actions. In many cases, panic attacks may cause other psychological conditions or complications, such as depression, suicidal thoughts or substance abuse. In severe cases, patients develop a deep fear of panic attacks, which may precipitate additional panic attacks. Some patients may also develop phobias of people, places or things that they believe are associated with panic attacks.
Some people who suffer from panic attacks experience a reduction in the severity and frequency of episodes after weeks, months or years of therapy while others experience success with various forms of medication. However, patients who have been diagnosed with severe panic disorder may suffer from exhaustion or agoraphobia, which makes it difficult for them to leave their homes and hold down regular jobs.
Determining SSDI Eligibility
Individuals who suffer from severe panic attacks that keep them from working may be able to receive benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, the patient must prove that he or she has a legitimate disability. The SSA first requires that the patient suffers from sudden, unpredictable attacks of terror at least once per week. The patient must then prove that these attacks cause at least one of the following complications:
- Severe social anxiety
- Inability to leave home
- Inability to focus on tasks at hand
- Inability to conduct basic activities of life, such as eating, bathing, dressing and cooking
Proof of suffering from panic disorder and experiencing complications from the disorder is submitted to the SSA in the form of medical documentation. Patients must be evaluated by a psychiatrist, another type of medical doctor or a mental health professional.
Panic attacks can be severely disabling and keep certain individuals from holding any type of job that they are qualified to perform. In these severe cases, patients may be able to receive SSDI benefits, which can help them pay bills and other expenses when it is impossible to make money in any other way.
To discuss SSD and SSI claims or appeals, please call (215) 464-7200 or contact the attorneys of Chermol & Fishman, LLC. The initial consultation is free, and we never charge a fee until we win your case.