Can Anxiety be a Disability? What you Need to Know Before You Apply

Can Anxiety be a Disability?  What you Need to Know Before You Apply

The short answer is yes, Anxiety can be a disability. Anxiety can escalate to a level where one is unable to leave home and function in the community. 

Anxiety can make it impossible to maintain employment, drive a car, and interact with others. Anxiety can take away from ones ability to perform the expected daily tasks of an adult. Suffering from an anxiety disorder is a miserable experience. 

But anxiety is highly treatable

Going on disability if often unnecessary given the treatment options that are available. I have watched people degrade and devolve after accepting disability. It is not something to be taken lightly. Nothing is gained if the cure is worse than the disorder. Life on disability can mean sleeping until noon because there is no where you have to be. It can mean skipping showers, because you are going to stay home alone. It can mean increased isolation. Ask yourself what you will do all day? What will you do with the rest of your life? This is a very depressing outlook.

The question is do you really need it? 

(Jofee-Walt, n.a.) Disability insurance is for people who are physically or mentally unable to work. The resources available are limited and have to be reserved for those who really need it. 

Types of Disability Insurance:

1.  SSI (Supplemental Security Income)

  • Cannot work on " a regular and sustained basis"
  • No more than $2,000 in assets if single, no more than $3,000 in assets if married. (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, 2020).
  • As of 2020, the monthly payment for SSI is $783for a single person, and $1185 for a couple (Social Security, 2020).

2.  SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance)

  • Unable to work for the past 12 months
  • Must have paid into FICA taxes for 10 years. (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, 2020).
  • As of 2020, the maximum monthly payment is $ 3,011 (Laurence, 2020). 

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The Realities of Life on SSDI 

 Before applying, there are some things to consider:

  • For a young person, living on disability can be an especially depressing, ostracizing, lonely and miserable experience. The expectation for young adults in their prime is to work to support themselves and contribute to society. It is a source of shame when someone asks what do you do? and you don't have an answer.

  • Living on Disability means you don't have a place to get up and go to in the morning. A job is so much more than a source of income. A job is a time anchor in your day. It is a reason to get out of bed in the morning. It is a reason to shower, shampoo, shave, dress up, and make ourselves look presentable.

  • The workplace is a place to interact and connect with other people, which is essential for our mental health. It is a place to learn new information or skills, and to grow. You will be missing out on a lot.

  • For an older person, it will bring different burdens. As you get into your 30's and 40's, the expectation is that you are providing for yourself and your family. To not work is going to shatter one's self image as a provider

  • The income you will be given on disability will not be as much as you can earn from working. It will become difficult to meet your expenses. You will not be able to save or invest, because living on Disability means you cannot own significant assets

Alternatives To Consider 

1.  Don't give up and surrender to anxiety. Get effective treatment. Anxiety disorders are among the most treatable psychiatric disorders. They can be well managed so that you can function in the workplace.

2.  Go on short-term disability, which is SSI. Spend three to six months focusing on treatment and getting better, then return to work.

3.  Do as much to support yourself as you can, and to retain as much independence as possible. Consider SSI, which is basically partial disability, and a get a part time job.

4.  Explore alternatives such as freelancing or day labor. With anxiety, you will have good days and bad days, Work when you can, to the best of your ability.

5.  Change careers. Identify your source of distress and look for a job with minimal triggers. There are jobs where you will have minimal interaction with the public or co-workers, or where travel is not required. 

 Conclusion

Anxiety is a serious psychological disorder, which can be disabling in it's worst forms. But it is also treatable.  Accepting disability can make life worse.  

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References

Laurence, K.B. (2020). Disability Secrets. NOLO. Retrieved April 11, 2020 from https://www.disabilitysecrets.com/how-much-in-ssd.html

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. (2020). Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits & Supplemental Security Income. Retrieved April 11, 2020 from https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Living-with-a-Mental-Health-Condition/Social-Security-Disability-Insurance-Benefits-Su

Social Security. (2020). SSI Federal Payment Amounts for 2020. Retrieved April 11, 2020 from https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/SSI.html

Jofee-Walt, C. (n.a.) Unfit for Work: The startling rise of disability in America Retrieved April 11, 2020 from https://apps.npr.org/unfit-for-work/

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Comments 1

Overcomers Counseling on Oct 13th, 2020

PTSD is a disability. However, unlike physical disabilities, challenges resulting from mental health struggles are rarely seen. Often, they are silent struggles. This creates a stigma around claiming benefits and legitimizing that post-traumatic stress disorder is, in fact, extremely limiting for many of those who suffer from it.

PTSD is a disability. However, unlike physical disabilities, challenges resulting from mental health struggles are rarely seen. Often, they are silent struggles. This creates a stigma around claiming benefits and legitimizing that post-traumatic stress disorder is, in fact, extremely limiting for many of those who suffer from it.
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