is anxiety a disability (2022)

Disabilities include anxiety illnesses including OCD, panic disorders, phobias, or PTSD. As a result, they are able to receive Social Security disability benefits. People must demonstrate that their condition is so crippling that it keeps them from working. 

At work, a certain amount of tension and anxiety is normal and even beneficial. However, if it occurs frequently and excessively, it may be a sign of an anxiety problem, which can make it difficult for you to function at work. Here’s what you can do about it and when your condition qualifies for federal protections as a disability.

First, Let’s Understand Anxiety

The most prevalent mental health illnesses in the country are anxiety disorders, which affect 18% of adult Americans each year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). An anxiety disorder may arise as a result of genetics, environmental factors, life experiences, alterations in brain chemistry, and other stressors.

Depending on the intensity, persistence, and frequency of symptoms, the National Institute of Mental Health classifies the illness as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and phobia-related disorders. Obsessive-compulsive disorders, depressive disorders, and posttraumatic stress disorder are also included in the ADAA (PTSD). (Source)

The disease can cause a wide range of symptoms, which vary depending on the person and the severity. They include trembling, exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, irritability, lack of sleep, a racing or pounding heartbeat, and shortness of breath. Extreme concern, a loss of control, and a sense of approaching disaster can all be felt by those who are caught up in an event.

What varieties of anxiety disorders are there?

Both adults and kids can experience generalized anxiety disorder. The illness shares symptoms with anxiety disorders such as panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Constant concern, difficulty concentrating, and intrusive thoughts are some of these symptoms. The patient may not be able to control their worry because it is preoccupying them. Both psychotherapy and medication may be used in treatment.

Do you have a disability because of your anxiety?

Many people with generalized anxiety disorder are able to operate, keep their jobs, run their homes, and raise their kids. It seems unlikely that the SSA would classify anxiety in these situations as a handicap.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is a federal organization in charge of managing and distributing benefits for people with disabilities. It will ultimately decide if your disease qualifies as a handicap based on how serious it is. The good news is that their definition takes psychological or mental disorders into account. The SSA defines disability as any mental impairment that stops you from working and is corroborated by medical evidence.

If you believe that your anxiety frequently interferes with your ability to perform your job duties, it’s a good idea to explore if your condition qualifies as a handicap under the law and whether you are consequently entitled to certain safeguards and accommodations.

Businesses with 15 employees or more are subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA provides the following definition of a disability:

According to the ADA, a person with a disability is one who has a physical or mental impairment that significantly restricts at least one major activity of daily living. Even if they do not now have a disability, this includes persons who have a history of a certain impairment. (Reference).

It does not specify the criteria under which a person is entitled to protection. The statute does, however, list some medical problems that would be clearly categorized as disabilities by this criterion.

When anxiety is demonstrated to significantly limit a key life activity or a major bodily function, it is defined as a disorder. The ADA will recognize your anxiety as a disability if it is incapacitating when it is present, even if you typically have it under control with therapy and medication. (Source)

Therefore, you wouldn’t be eligible for ADA protection if you experience some anxiety while meeting new people but are able to take a big breath and get through the situation. However, a person who experiences extreme terror can be eligible. There isn’t a box you can mark as checked.

Reasonable adjustments

Remote work, a service animal, a modified schedule, or a quiet space are a few accommodations that might be deemed reasonable for those with anxiety disorders. They must be seen as “reasonable” given the kind of work you do.

The U.S. Department of Labor claims:

A modification or alteration to a job, the workplace, or how things are typically done during the hiring process constitutes a reasonable accommodation. These adjustments give a person with a disability the same possibility as persons without disabilities to not only obtain a job but also to successfully complete all job-related responsibilities. (Source).

For instance, it would be deemed unreasonable if a receptionist states that someone cannot sit close to the door because they are anxious. The receptionist’s primary responsibility is to welcome guests as they enter the building. However, if an accountant makes the same request, it might be considered a reasonable accommodation because their place of employment is not reliant on being close to the entrance.

Analyzing the Disability of Anxiety

A medical information form may be required of you if you request an accommodation under the ADA. You might need to fill out this form by seeing your doctor and having them do so.

Many states have regulations that govern the medical information that an employee is compelled to provide their employer, in addition to federal rules. Make sure to inquire about all the documentation you must complete with your human resources department.

If your doctor finds that you have a handicap, they could make a list of possible modifications for you. Before requesting these adjustments from your employer, you can give them some thought.

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