A Phoenix Social Security Lawyer Discusses Anxiety Disorders
In its determination of disability, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will seek to determine if the impairment prevents some basic work related activity. If so, it will then seek to determine if the impairment meets or equals the Listing of Impairments, Section 12.06. To meet this section the anxiety must be either the predominant disturbance or experienced as a result of an individual’s attempts to master symptoms. In order for an anxiety disorder to be sufficiently severe for the SSA to render a finding of disabled, the requirements in section 12.06 A and B or in A and C must be satisfied.
An individual can satisfy section A in one of the following 5 ways, all of which require the presentation of medical evidence. The first is generalized persistent anxiety accompanied by at least 3 of the following 4 symptoms: motor tension, autonomic hyperactivity, apprehensive expectation, or vigilance and scanning. The second is a persistent irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation which results in a compelling need to avoid that object, activity, or situation. The third is recurrent severe panic attacks occurring at least once a week. The fourth is recurring obsessions or compulsions which are a source of marked distress. The fifth is recurrent and intrusive recollections of a traumatic experience, which are a source of marked distress.
In addition, an individual must satisfy the requirements in either section B or section C. Section B requires that an individual establish at least 2 of the following: a marked restriction of activities of daily living, marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning, marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence or pace, or repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration. “Marked” is defined to mean more than moderate and less than extreme. If an individual does not meet the requirements of section B, the Administration will consider if section C is met. Section C requires that an individual show that the disorder results in the complete inability to function independently outside of one’s home.
If your anxiety disorder does not meet or equal Listing Section 12.06, it does not mean that you will be found not disabled. You may have a combination of impairments for example. Additionally, it is your Residual Functional Capacity that will be considered in determining if you are able to work – so if your restrictions are severe enough you may be found disabled even if you don’t meet the listing.
Depression as an SSA Impairment
In the same way that anxiety is evaluated, in determining if someone is disabled by depression the SSA is required to initially determine if the impairment prevents some basic work related activity. If so, it will then seek to determine if the impairment meets or equals the Listing of Impairments, Section 12.04. To meet this section the depression must establish through medical evidence that the condition is sufficiently severe that the requirements in section 12.04 A and B or in A and C are satisfied.
An individual can satisfy section A by establishing persistence, either continuous or intermittent, of one of the following:
Depressive syndrome characterized by at least four of the following:
- Anhedonia or pervasive loss of interest in almost all activities; or
- Appetite disturbance with change in weight; or
- Sleep disturbance; or
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation; or
- Decreased energy; or
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness; or
- Difficulty concentrating or thinking; or
- Thoughts of suicide; or
- Hallucinations, delusions, or paranoid thinking; or
Manic syndrome characterized by at least three of the following:
- Hyperactivity; or
- Pressure of speech; or
- Flight of ideas; or
- Inflated self-esteem; or
- Decreased energy; or
- Easy distractibility; or
- Involvement in activities that have a high probability of painful consequences which are not recognized; or
- Hallucinations, delusions or paranoid thinking; or
Bipolar syndrome with a history of episodic periods manifested by the full symptomatic picture of both manic and depressive syndromes (and currently characterized by either or both syndromes) AND
Section B is established by the foregoing impairment resulting in at least two of the following:
- Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or
- Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or
- Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or
- Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration;
And Section C is established by the present of a medically documented history of a chronic affective disorder of at least 2 years’ duration that has caused more than a minimal limitation of ability to do basic work activities, with symptoms or signs currently attenuated by medication or psychosocial support, and one of the following:
- Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration; or
- A residual disease process that has resulted in such marginal adjustment that even a minimal increase in mental demands or change in the environment would be predicted to cause the individual to decompensate; or
- Current history of 1 or more years’ inability to function outside a highly supportive living arrangement, with an indication of continued need for such an arrangement.
The Evidence of a Mental Impairment
The SSA will look to symptoms as documented in the records, including those from counselors, therapists and nurse practitioners,, to determine if the records establish the presence of an impairment that is consistent with that expected for the mental impairment. However, evidence from counselors, therapists and nurse practitioners is not considered medical evidence that can establish a claim. It is, therefore, usually required to obtain evidence from a psychologist or psychiatrist to establish disability. The experienced attorneys at Schiffman Law Office, P.C. understand the evidence required by the SSA and assist their clients in navigating the regulations to present the required evidence.
Contact a Phoenix Social Security Lawyer for Legal Assistance
It is difficult to establish that anxiety, depression and other mental disorders are disabling. The SSA process is complicated and most claims are initially denied. You have rights. Our lawyers can help you present your claim from the initial claim through all the appeals. Do not give up. Let us help you obtain the benefits that you are entitled to receive.