Panic Attacks

It may shock you to learn that as many as one in ten Americans suffer from one or more panic attacks each year. It is common for these attacks to be isolated, and many people are able to control the anxiety that leads to panic attacks with treatment. However, a small percentage of sufferers have recurring panic attacks that cannot be controlled with treatment. These individuals may be unable to work because of their condition.

Anyone who is unable to work because of a mental illness and has worked in the past can apply for social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits. Unlike other assistance programs, SSDI is an insurance program that is funded with paycheck deductions. This means that applicants have already paid into SSDI, so they are simply applying for the benefits that they have earned.

What Are Panic Attacks?

Panic attacks occur when a sufferer feels the sudden onset of overwhelming anxiety and develops an immediate sense of fear. While panic attacks are more common in people who already suffer from an anxiety disorder, it is possible for people who have never displayed any symptoms of anxiety to have a panic attack. The feeling of anxiety and fear can cause sufferers to believe that they are dying, and some sufferers believe that they are having a mental breakdown.

Panic attacks do not have to have a trigger, but it is possible for certain situations to trigger attacks. People who suffer from a mental illness outside of the panic attacks could experience these attacks when encountering situations that are difficult because of their disorder. For example, people with social phobia could experience a panic attack when they are forced to interact with a large group of people.

These attacks can last between 20 minutes and one hour. Symptoms of panic attacks include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest tightness
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Shaking
  • Feeling hot or cold
  • A sense of dread

Most people do not have recurring panic attacks, but there are individuals who suffer from an ongoing panic disorder. The severity of this disorder typically determines whether a person is eligible for SSDI benefits.

Getting SSDI For Panic Attacks

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has strict requirements when it comes to people who have panic attacks. Being able to prove that these attacks interfere with daily life is a matter of seeking medical assistance for the condition. A medical professional should be keeping detailed records that can then be sent to the SSA.

Panic attacks must occur at a rate of at least one per week in order for a sufferer’s application to be considered. These attacks must be unpredictable and accompanied by any three of the following:

  • Overwhelming social anxiety
  • An inability to leave home
  • An inability to focus on one task
  • An inability to provide self-care

Sufferers must see a mental health professional on a regular basis in an attempt to treat the panic attacks. The SSA will generally only consider granting benefits in the case that treatment options have been unsuccessful.

Getting Help With Applying

Unfortunately, applying for SSDI benefits is a complicated process. People who suffer from panic disorder may feel unable to handle the application process on their own, and it is essential that an application be filled out thoroughly to ensure that the SSA is able to consider all of the evidence of disability.

The good news is that legal representatives are available to navigate sufferers through the applications process. SSDI attorneys are knowledgeable about the SSA’s requirements and assist clients based on this knowledge. When being approved for benefits could be the difference between putting food on the table and going hungry, it is important for applicants to have an experienced legal representative on their side. The first step is scheduling a consultation. I have ten years of experience in social security cases and appeals, and am ready to fight for your benefits. Contact me today to get started on your case.

Ruth F. Kolb, Esquire has been practicing social security disability law since 2003 handling all levels of representation from initial claims through all stages of appeal.