Yes, it is possible to get Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) for an anxiety disorder; however, not everyone with anxiety will meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) requirements for benefits.

When you apply for SSDI for an anxiety disorder, the SSA will first consider whether your condition meets or equals listing 12.06 for Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders. To qualify, you must satisfy the criteria in sections “A” and “B,” or “A” and “C”:

  1. Medical documentation of the requirements of paragraph 1, 2, or 3:
    1. Anxiety disorder, characterized by three or more of the following;
      1. Restlessness
      2. Easily fatigued
      3. Difficulty concentrating
      4. Irritability
      5. Muscle tension
      6. Sleep disturbance
    2. Panic disorder or agoraphobia, characterized by one or both:
      1. Panic attacks followed by a persistent concern or worry about additional panic attacks or their consequences
      2. Disproportionate fear or anxiety about at least two different situations (for example, using public transportation, being in a crowd, being in a line, being outside of your home, being in open spaces)
    3. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, characterized by one or both:
      1. Involuntary, time-consuming preoccupation with intrusive, unwanted thoughts
      2. Repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety


  1. Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning:
    1. Understand, remember, or apply information
    2. Interact with others
    3. Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace
    4. Adapt or manage oneself


  1. Your mental disorder in this listing category is “serious and persistent”; that is, you have a medically documented history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least 2 years, and there is evidence of both:
    1. Medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or a highly structured setting(s) that is ongoing and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of your mental disorder
    2. Marginal adjustment—that is, you have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life

You must also be receiving treatment for your diagnosis. Treatment from a licensed psychologist or mental health provider is preferred over treatment by a general practitioner or family doctor.

It is important to remember that not all anxiety disorders will meet the specific requirements of Social Security listing 12.06. If your condition is not equivalent to an existing listing, the SSA will need to assess whether your disability prevents you from performing any type of work, including any job you have held in the past. In fact, most cases do not meet a listing; however, this does not mean that you lose your case. You just have to prove you cannot perform any type of work, including unskilled work, for your application to be approved.

This may sound overwhelming, but don’t give up. Our Omaha disability lawyers can help you get the evidence you need to help show that your anxiety disorder prevents you from working. To learn more, request a free copy of Why You Should Hire an Attorney to Handle Your Social Security Disability Claim, or contact Cuddigan Law at 402-933-5405 and ask for a free evaluation of your claim.

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska