How to Get Social Security Disability for Agoraphobia in Richmond, Virginia
Are you looking for an answer to the question, “Can I get disability for agoraphobia?” Then you’re in the right place. Please keep reading to learn more about how you may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits – SSDI benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – for the limitations and restrictions caused by your agoraphobia.
If you have any questions about applying for Social Security disability, or are looking for aggressive legal representation in your disability claim, call, text, or email Richmond disability lawyer Corey Pollard for a free consultation. We’re here to help you and your family throughout the Social Security disability application process.
Disability for Agoraphobia
Getting approved for Social Security disability benefits is difficult when you have a medical condition that cannot be proven through objective evidence such as blood work, lab tests, x-rays, MRIs, or CT scans. But it’s still possible to get SSDI benefits or SSI for a mental illness like agoraphobia with the right evidence and an experienced disability attorney.
This article provides an overview of agoraphobia – what it is and common symptoms – and how you can get approved for Social Security disability benefits for agoraphobia.
What is Agoraphobia?
In the late 19th century Westphal used the term agoraphobia to describe people who feared public places. Though it is often considered synonymous with panic attacks or panic-like symptoms, research has shown that the majority of people with agoraphobia do not experience panic attacks. As such, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM – V), considers agoraphobia a mental disorder separate from panic disorder, anxiety, or panic attacks.
A psychiatrist or psychologist will diagnose a person with agoraphobia if he or she meets the following diagnostic criteria:
1. A person with agoraphobia must have fear or anxiety arising from at least two of these general situations:
- Using public transportation such as buses, trains, cars, and planes.
- Being in open spaces such as parking lots, parks, and bridges.
- Being in enclosed places such as the movie theater, an arena, or a mall.
- Standing in line such as when checking out from the grocery store.
- Being in a crowd.
- Being outside of your home alone.
2. To be diagnosed with agoraphobia, a person must fear the situations above due to thoughts that it might be difficult to escape the situation or that help might not be available if a panic attack starts or other incapacitating or embarrassing symptoms.
3. A person with agoraphobia must almost always experience fear or anxiety about the situations mentioned above.
4. A person with agoraphobia actively avoids agoraphobic situations, requires a friend to encounter these situations, or experiences intense fear or anxiety when exposed to these situations. The fear or anxiety must be out of proportion to the actual danger posed by the situation.
5. The fear, anxiety, or avoidance from the agoraphobia must causee significant distress or impairment that affects the person’s social, occupational, and other important areas of functioning. This fear and anxiety usually manifests with physical symptoms, including shortness of breath, a rapid heart beat, numbness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, and dizziness.
These symptoms can be devastating to those who experience them. And they’re often accompanied by other mental illnesses such as anxiety and panic attacks. If you’re suffering from these symptoms and are unable to work full time because of them, talk to an SSDI attorney and SSI lawyer in Virginia to get the help you need.
Meeting the Social Security Disability Listing for Agoraphobia or Proving that Your Agoraphobia Prevents You From Meeting the Nonexertional Requirements of Work
The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes agoraphobia with or without panic attacks as a medically determinable impairment. And there are two ways to get approved for SSD for agoraphobia under Social Security laws.
Meeting the Social Security Listing for Agoraphobia
Because agoraphobia is considered an anxiety disorder, the SSA includes it in the listing for anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders. This is Social Security Listing 12.06.
You can meet Listing 12.06 if you have medical documentation of agoraphobia, characterized by disproportionate fear or anxiety about at least two different situations (for example, using public transportation, leaving your house, being in a line, being in a crowd, being in an open space like a park) and extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning:
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information
- Interacting with others, such as the general public, friends, family, coworkers, and supervisors
- Maintaining concentration, pace, and focus in a work setting
- Adapting to changes in routine or location
Meeting the disability listing for agoraphobia can be difficult because it requires medical documentation of your condition. By its nature, agoraphobia often prevents those who suffer from it from leaving home and seeing a physician often. And unless you have an episode of agoraphobia or a panic attack in front of your psychiatrist, therapist, or physician, there is a good chance that your doctor will have to rely on your report of symptoms.
This is why it’s important to establish and maintain a relationship with a therapist, physician, or psychiatrist with whom you are comfortable discussing your psychological problems. Make sure that you tell your doctor about every situation that affects you and causes an agoraphobic spell, so that your doctor can report it in his or her notes. Consistent reporting of symptoms can help establish your credibility, as well as your doctor’s credibility.
Obtaining a Medical-Vocational Allowance for Agoraphobia Based on Nonexertional Limitations
In our experience, many of you who suffer from agoraphobia will not meet the Social Security listing because of how the SSA evaluates claims. You can still, however, receive disability benefits based on the nonexertional limitations resulting from your agoraphobia. This is known as a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment.
As a disability attorney for agoraphobia claims, we will focus on the types of situations you must avoid to prevent a worsening of symptoms. If interacting with others, being exposed to crowded workplaces, or adjusting to changes in routine because of uncertainty cause you difficulties, then you may be entitled to SSD benefits.
Witnesses can be helpful when seeking Social Security disability for agoraphobia. In-person testimony at the Social Security disability hearing or written statements from friends and family members who have witnessed your symptoms or who have served as your companion into agoraphobic situations can help you get approved for benefits – either by meeting a listing or through your residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment. Their observations regarding your physical reaction to these situations can be helpful.
Your Attorney for Social Security Disability for Agoraphobia
The SSA defines “work” as a five days per week, eight hours per day task. If the administrative law judge hearing your Social Security disability claim does not believe you can perform the basic nonexertional functions of work (concentrating, interacting appropriately with people you’ll see at work, maintaining time, pace, and persistent), then your claim will likely be awarded.
As your disability attorney, we’ll develop the evidence to show that you will have great difficulty focusing and concentrating because of your agoraphobia, and that your symptoms would prevent you from maintaining employment. We focus on all available evidence: your testimony, the medical evidence, vocational evidence, school records, and witnesses.
We understand that it’s hard to live, let alone work, with agoraphobia. Dealing with growing fear is something we wouldn’t wish on anyone. But the good news is that we can help.
Corey Pollard serves disabled adults, including those with agoraphobia, in Richmond, Chesterfield, Hanover, Fredericksburg, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach. Call, text, or email us today for help obtaining Social Security disability for agoraphobia. There is no fee unless you win your case. And we can help at every stage – from applying for Social Security disability to filing an appeal with the SSA if your claim is denied.