Anxiety can qualify as a disability if the anxiety disorder meets specific criteria. A person may then be able to claim disability benefits.

Anxiety is feeling negative emotions or physical symptoms in response to certain events or situations.

Occasional anxiety is a natural part of life. However, if someone’s anxiety worsens, persists, or interferes with daily life, they may have an anxiety disorder. People with anxiety disorders may be able to claim monthly Social Security Administration (SSA) disability payments.

This article discusses whether the SSA considers anxiety to be a disability and if anxiety qualifies for long-term disability. It also discusses the eligibility requirements for SSDI with anxiety and how to claim disability for anxiety.

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The SSA considers anxiety a disability if there is medical documentation of specific criteria. These criteria include:

  • an anxiety disorder with three or more of the following symptoms:
    • restlessness
    • being easily fatigued
    • having difficulty concentrating
    • irritability
    • muscle tension or sleep disturbances
  • or a panic disorder or agoraphobia, where they have both or one of the following:
    • panic attacks followed by persistent concerns or worry about more panic attacks or the consequences of them
    • disproportionate fears or anxieties about being in at least two different situations, such as certain public or outdoor settings

A person must also have a serious and persistent disorder. They must have a medically documented history of the disorder for at least 2 years, with evidence of both:

  • medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support, or highly structured settings that reduce the signs and symptoms of their anxiety disorder
  • having a minimal capacity to be able to adapt to changes in their environment or demands that are not already part of their daily life

They may also have an extreme limitation in one of the following areas, or marked limitation in two:

  • understanding, remembering, or applying information
  • interacting with others
  • concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace
  • adapting or managing themselves

The SSA lists anxiety disorders that they consider to qualify a person for disability, including:

Learn more about anxiety.

SSA disability payments for anxiety continue as long as someone’s anxiety disorder does not improve, and they cannot work.

The SSA periodically reviews a person’s condition. They may change an individual’s payments if:

  • their ability to work changes
  • they return to work
  • their condition improves

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a monthly payment to people who have disabilities that stop or limit their ability to work.

To be eligible for SSDI, they must:

  • have a disability, such as an anxiety disorder:
    • that affects their working ability for a year or more, or that may be fatal
    • limit a person’s ability to earn income above a certain amount, if they continue to work
  • have worked for at least 5 of the last 10 years, although people age 24 and younger may not need to have worked for as long

To claim disability for anxiety, people should meet the SSA criteria outlined above. For adults, a person can submit a claim online or via appointment.

An individual with anxiety may be able to claim:

  • Supplemental Security Income for Disability (SSDI): for people age 64 years and younger
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): for people ages 65 years and older

A person can check if they qualify for SSA disability payments here.

The SSA will ask them to provide:

  • personal information, such as:
    • date and place of birth
    • Social Security Number
    • educational details
  • marital status
  • details of any children they have
  • details of military service, if applicable
  • details of recent employment, such as:
    • names of recent employers
    • dates worked
  • bank account details

They will also ask an individual for information about their anxiety condition, including:

  • names and contact details for healthcare professionals and facilities involved in their care
  • dates of examinations and treatments
  • names and dates of medical tests a person has received
  • details of prescription and over-the-counter medications, such as:
    • the reason for the medication
    • the individual who prescribed them
  • information about other medical records, if applicable
  • information about their job history and duties, including:
    • the date their anxiety condition began to affect their ability to work
    • the type of jobs they have had in the 15 years before becoming unable to work

The SSA will also request permission to access a person’s medical records.

After an individual completes their application, the SSA processes it to determine if they are eligible for disability. They will send someone’s application to the Disability Determination Service (DDS) in a person’s state for review.

This process may take 6 to 9 months. If successful, an individual typically receives their first disability payment in the sixth full month after the date their disability began.

The following are answers to questions people frequently ask about anxiety.

Can you live with constant anxiety?

A feeling of constant anxiety may indicate a person has GAD. Although people may be able to live with GAD symptoms, healthcare professionals can recommend effective methods to help manage them.

What are 5 signs you have anxiety?

Signs of anxiety, according to the SSA, include restlessness, being tired easily, and irritability. They can also include having trouble concentrating. An individual may also have muscle tension or sleep disturbances.

Anxiety resources

Visit our dedicated hub for more research-backed information and in-depth resources on anxiety.

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A person with anxiety may qualify for disability if they have an anxiety disorder that interferes with their work. To claim disability, someone must meet SSA criteria and have medical documentation of their anxiety condition.

An individual with anxiety can submit an application for disability to the SSA online or in person.