People with agoraphobia live in fear of having panic attacks. These episodes can be unpredictable and may cause significant disability. In addition, the individual may be unable to leave home to go to work or school. For those living with agoraphobia, simple tasks like grocery shopping or going to the post office may become impossible. Panic attacks can be terrifying and often feel out of control. Symptoms may include a rapid heartbeat or heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, and feelings of terror. If you have agoraphobia, it is essential to seek treatment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an effective form of treatment that can help you learn to manage your anxiety and ease your fears. With treatment, you can live a normal, healthy life. [1]

Does agoraphobia count as a disability?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” This includes medical conditions like blindness, deafness, cancer, cerebral palsy, HIV/AIDS, and dyslexia.

However, it is essential to note that not all disabilities are visible. Mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder can also be classed as disabilities. Generally, any medical condition that significantly impacts a person's ability to live a full and independent life can be classified as a disability.

For those living with agoraphobia, the impact on their lives can be mild or severe. Even though those with mild symptoms might find certain situations challenging, they may be able to live a good life, especially if they seek medical treatment early. However, in severe cases, patients might become homebound, simply unable to control their fears to keep a job or function in society.

Therefore, in some cases, agoraphobia can be classified as a disability, but you must meet some criteria. [2]

How to apply for SSDI benefits with agoraphobia

Disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) in the US are known as SSDI benefits.

You may be wondering whether you can get an agoraphobia disability allowance. If the severity of your condition is debilitating, and limits your ability to function normally, you may qualify to receive benefits. Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder, so the requirements that you should meet to qualify as a disability are not visible to the eye. Therefore, you will need to tick off a list of standards to receive benefits.

The SSA’s guidelines state that you must experience at least one of the agoraphobia symptoms in section A below, and meet the requirements in either section B or C. [3]

A. Medically Documented Findings

  • Panic attacks and persistent anxiety about additional panic attacks and their consequences soon after.
  • Disproportionate fear or anxiety about at least two situations, e.g., being outside of the home, being in open spaces, using public transportation, or being in a crowded place.

B. Limitations

Extreme limitation in one, or significant restriction in two, of the following areas:

  1. Understanding, applying or remembering information
  2. Interacting with others
  3. Concentrating, persisting or maintaining pace
  4. Adapting or managing oneself

 C. History

Severe and persistent mental disorder, as evidenced by documented medical history over at least two years, of both:

  1. Ongoing medical treatment or mental health therapy, psychosocial interventions or highly structured settings that decrease the severity of the mental disorder.
  2. Inability to adjust to or adapt to changes in the environment or demands that are not already part of daily life.

Even though these requirements may seem thorough, you should not let them stand in the way of getting the disability benefits you are entitled to in order to have a better quality of life.

Resources:

  1. Balaram, K., & Marwaha, R. (2022). Agoraphobia. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved January 9, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554387/
  2. Flexer, S. (2019). Can I qualify for disability with agoraphobia? Disability Experts of Florida. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://www.disabilityexpertsfl.com/blog/bid/172507/can-i-qualify-for-disability-with-agoraphobia
  3. Social Security Administration. (n.d.). 12.00 Mental disorders-adult. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/12.00-MentalDisorders-Adult.htm#12_06