More studies are now proving that mental disorders, such as anxiety, are as disabling as physical disorders. Accordingly, it is becoming a debate whether or not people with anxiety should receive the same benefits as those with physical disabilities. To answer this question, we must first understand what disabilities are and at what point does the government consider anxiety as a disability.

What Is A Disability?

Disability, according to Merriam-Webster, is an impairment that prevents someone from engaging in gainful employment. Using this definition, we can concur that for a person to be considered as disabled, their disorder must make it hard if not impossible for them to get a good job. (1)

The government, however, defines disability as being unable to participate in any substantial gainful activity due to any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s). Furthermore, the impairment must have a high chance of leading to death or last or can be expected to last for a continuous period of more than one year. (2)

Medically determinable impairment means that acceptable clinical and medical diagnostic techniques can show the existence of such impairment. A doctor must also provide evidence that a person has a disorder that can be considered a disability.

What Is Anxiety?

Simply speaking, anxiety is a sense of worry or fear that something terrible or dangerous may happen. It is a common feeling that almost everyone may experience. However, some types of anxiety can be so severe that they prevent someone from doing simple everyday tasks.

Some of the most common types of anxiety disorders are generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. These disorders can vary in severity; hence, having any one of them does not automatically mean having a disability.

Is Anxiety A Disability?

Both medically and legally, the answer to this question would be it depends. As the law states, for anxiety to be a disability, it must be so severe that it makes it hard for a person to get a well-paying job. Thus, having a fear of dancing in front of people doesn’t qualify you for any┬ádisability benefits.

For the government to consider you as having a disability, you need to provide a medical certificate attesting to it. You can acquire this medical certificate by asking a certified medical practitioner in the appropriate field perform tests on you.

The Benefits Given To People With Disabilities

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two programs for people who are qualified as disabled. The first one is the Social Security disability insurance program (title II of the Social Security Act (Act)) and the other one would be the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program (title XVI of the Act).

Title II provides benefits for individuals who have a disability through their contributions during their previous or current employment. It also includes individuals who have disabilities and are dependents of persons under the insurance program. Title XVI; on the other hand, provide SSI payments to disabled individuals (including children under age 18) who have limited income and resources. (2)


Definition: Disability. (n.d.). Retrieved January 8, 2017, from Merriam-Webster:

Disability Evaluation Under Social Security. (n.d.). Retrieved January 8, 2017, from Social Security Administration: