There are many different types of anxiety related disorders that can be disabling for Social Security purposes. Most of our clients that are suffering from an anxiety disorder also have panic attacks. A panic attack presents itself in many different ways. Some people will experience heart palpitations, an overwhelming sense of fear, sweating, and a need to isolate themselves in their room to feel safe. Some people will experience panic attacks when they leave their home, where others will experience panic attacks no matter where they are several times a day. It is very important to document how many times a day or a week that you are experiencing a panic attack and to describe what it feels like for you. This is very important evidence to be included in your Social Security Disability and/or Supplemental Security Income application. It is also important for your mental health professional to understand how often these things are occurring. I recommend that clients keep a journal documenting what they were doing before the panic attack occurred, what it felt like, how long it lasted, and how long it took to recover after the panic attack was over. These journals can then be shown to your mental health professional and can be included in the medical record as evidence in your Social Security
There are also people that have anxiety and suffer from obsessions or compulsions, (OCD) which cause the person to be unable to even leave the house or function in a job-related activity. Some people will repeatedly wash their hands, check the locks on doors and windows, or have an absolute necessity to count anything that they have in front of them. I have seen clients that must count the cracks in the sidewalks or the tiles on the floor or ceiling, just to name a few. Then there are others who find it necessary to set things in threes or to make sure everything is in an exact place. This OCD behavior can make it very difficult to leave home or be on time for appointments as they must complete their rituals before they leave their home. Sometimes these individuals will have trouble at work because they cannot complete their job duties in a timely manner because they are concentrating on counting or making sure things are in place rather than doing the things they were supposed to do to complete their job.
Another significant part of anxiety related disorders occurs when individuals experience flashbacks of traumatic events that happened in their past. They become fearful of leaving their home or they always think someone is going to hurt them. Sometimes there are thoughts that they are being watched or that the television or radio are spying on them. Some people are afraid to touch doorknobs, cross bridges, or to come in contact with any type of germs. These limitations prevent the individual from maintaining a social life, concentrating on the tasks at hand or to be a reliable employee.
Disclaimer: These pages are only observations from my point of view of some of the factors that are present in the diagnosis. I am not a doctor, I am a lawyer and I am only providing observations of various signs and symptoms that I have seen during my practice and/or the signs and symptoms that I evaluate when taking a client in front of an Administrative Law Judge.