How Hard Is It To Get Disability for Anxiety?

Important: We updated this article in June 2023 to make sure all info below is both current and correct. Depression and anxiety can make daily activities feel impossible — including work. Unlike physical health issues, anxiety is harder to prove, despite how common it is. In fact, mental health issues like anxiety are the #5 reason people file disability claims. (The #1 reason is musculoskeletal disorders, such as back pain.) However, you may still get disability for anxiety if your symptoms force you to stop working.

Physical Symptoms That Help Support Your Disability for Anxiety Claim

Anxiety causes many different symptoms, from chronic worry to outright panic attacks and physical agitation. And while it’s listed as a mental condition, anxiety can often cause physical symptoms, including:

  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Shaking/muscle tremors
  • Increased heart rate/palpitations
  • Chest pains
  • Hyperventilating

Some symptoms may get much worse in social situations or when you’re at work.

Anxiety symptoms can also come on suddenly and without warning. Without proper medical treatment, it may interfere with your ability to concentrate and complete routine job duties. Work tasks that used to feel normal instead become paralyzing for people with anxiety. In fact, some people have such severe anxiety that just leaving the house triggers a panic attack.

There are several different kinds of anxiety disorders, and they’re all hard to live with. The most common anxiety types include:

  • General anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Social anxiety (SAD)
  • Specific phobias (i.e., agoraphobia)
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

How to Prove Your Disability for Anxiety Claim Is Valid

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has guidelines for proving your anxiety is severe enough to qualify for disability benefits. So what proof do you need to get disability for anxiety?

The SSA looks for specific symptoms and limitations to determine whether you have a valid disability for anxiety claim. To do this, you must meet the requirements in #1 and #2 listed below. (If you can’t meet #2, then you must meet #3 to have a valid disability for anxiety claim.)

  1. First, you must experience three or more symptoms listed below:
    • Always feel restless
    • Get tired easily
    • Trouble concentrating
    • Moody/irritable
    • Tense muscles
    • Sleep problems/insomnia
  2. Next, your mental functioning must be extremely limited in one area (or markedly limited in two areas) below:
    • Understanding, remembering, or applying information
    • Interacting with others
    • Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace
    • Adapting or managing your behaviors
  3. Your doctor categorizes your anxiety as “serious and persistent.” This means you have a documented history of routine medical treatments for at least two years. To prove you meet #3, you must see an acceptable medical source (preferably a psychologist) regularly. And if you take any prescriptions to help manage your anxiety, that’s even better.

    Pro Tip: Ask your doctor to fill out a mental RFC form that explains how your symptoms hurt your ability to earn a living.

What Else Does the SSA Look for in Disability for Anxiety Claims?

Your medical records aren’t the only thing the SSA reviews when you apply for disability for anxiety. Here’s what else you must know when applying for SSD benefits with any type of anxiety disorder:

  1. You need 40 Social Security work credits to qualify for SSD benefits. How can you be sure you have enough before you apply for disability? If you worked 5 in the last 10 years while paying Social Security payroll taxes, then that’s enough.
  2. You’re not currently getting any other Social Security benefits at this time. The SSA will only pay one benefit to each person based on their own work record. If you get any of these benefits each month, then you cannot get Social Security disability for anxiety:
  3. Your personal monthly income must be less than $1,470 when you apply. The SSA only looks at how much money you make when reviewing SSD disability for anxiety claims. But if you’re filing for SSI, they’ll look at how much money everyone makes who lives with you in your home.
  4. You must be unable to work for at least 12 months in a row, specifically for health reasons. Just started anxiety medication or therapy to treat your symptoms? Then there’s a chance your symptoms could improve in less than one year. And if you can still work, the SSA will deny you disability for anxiety.

How to Get Free Expert Claim Help Right Now

While getting disability for anxiety isn’t easy, it is possible. If you find the claims process confusing or stressful, talk to a disability lawyer. An attorney knows exactly what needs to go into your disability for anxiety claim. Getting professional legal help means you won’t make any mistakes on your claim paperwork. These mistakes can make the SSA automatically deny you SSD benefits.

What’s more, all Social Security attorneys work on contingency. That means you’ll pay $0 unless that lawyer helps you win benefits. And if you do win, then you’ll only pay one small fee out of your back pay.

Want free expert claim help that triples your chances for getting benefits? Click the button below to start your free online benefits quiz and see if you may qualify:

Get Your Free Benefits Evaluation

Mandy Voisin is a freelance writer, blogger, and author of Girls of the Ocean and Star of Deliverance. As an accomplished content marketing consultant, mom of four and doctor's wife, Mandy has written hundreds of articles about dangerous drugs and medical devices, medical issues that impact disabled Americans, veterans' healthcare and workers' compensation issues since 2016.

Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity,, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.