Do You Have A Case?

While everyone gets anxious on occasion, anxiety disorders can be debilitating. People who live with anxiety disorders can be limited in their ability to perform even the simplest tasks when their anxiety kicks in. If you are diagnosed with anxiety, and your symptoms interfere with your ability to work, you may be entitled to long-term disability insurance.

Below, we will discuss how to build a solid case for filing a long-term disability claim for your Anxiety Disorder.

What are the Disabling Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety Disorder is more than feeling anxious. It is a complex disorder with many disabling symptoms, both emotional and physical. It is very common for the physical aspects of mental illness to be dismissed because it is a “mental” condition. However, they can be just as important. It is important to report any symptoms you experience to your doctor(s) so that there is a clear record of what you are experiencing.

Emotional & Cognitive Symptoms

The emotional and cognitive symptoms of Anxiety Disorder may include:

  • Excessive anxiety
  • Inability to focus
  • Racing thoughts
  • Feelings of doom or dread
  • Intense fear
  • Overwhelming stress
  • intense episodes of nervousness or worry.

If these symptoms present themselves frequently or severely enough, they could be considered debilitating. Your anxiety symptoms may be interfering with your ability to perform daily tasks, or limit your ability to do work. Your anxiety can also exacerbate already stressful situations by making them incredibly overwhelming.

Physical Symptoms

The physical symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Poor sleep patterns, insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Increased heart rate
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Panic attacks

The physical symptoms of anxiety are often overlooked because it is a “mental” illness. But it is important to properly recognize and report all symptoms of your anxiety disorder, and accurately inform your doctor of what you are experiencing.

Different Types of Anxiety

There are 5 major types of anxiety. While many of them share similarities in symptoms, they manifest in different ways. Your doctor(s) can help you get a more accurate diagnosis of your symptoms by classifying which type of anxiety you have.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

GAD is often classified by overbearing feelings of worry, anxiety, nervousness, and stress. GAD is generally not brought on by trauma or phobias, like other types mentioned below.

Panic Disorder

People living with Panic Disorder regularly experience panic attacks. These are uncontrollable responses to fear and/or stress. Certain triggers can also bring them on, such as experiencing traumatic events, or reminders of such events. Panic attacks are often classified by periods of intense chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, hyperventilation, dizziness, and/or abdominal distress.

Social Phobia

Social Phobia is a disorder characterized by being anxiously overwhelmed and excessively self-conscious in social situations. These social phobias can be limited to only certain types of interactions, such as job interviews or presenting in a meeting. But, they can also feel it during social interactions in general.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a form of anxiety that is directly linked to a traumatic event, or series of traumatic events. PTSD is often associated with veterans, but anyone can suffer from it. Survivors of natural disasters, traumatic accidents, assault, abuse, or rape may experience PTSD, for example.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is generally characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions), along with repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Common repetitive behaviors may include excessive hand-washing, counting, cleaning, or other tasks that are done to make the obsessive thoughts go away. These so-called “rituals” only offer temporary relief, and refraining from doing so often leads to increased feelings of anxiety.

vector image of woman living with anxiety and depression

Anxiety & Depression

Anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand. It is very common for people to suffer from both. If you are living with anxiety or depression, you should talk with your doctor or therapist about the possibility of having both. They may be able to determine a further diagnosis for you. This may also be helpful in building your case, as suffering from both anxiety and depression can make it harder for you to perform at work. for more information regarding depression and long-term disability, click here.

Proving Your Disability with Anxiety

Anyone living with anxiety knows the overall toll it can take on your health, your relationships, your career, and your life. However, your insurance company will likely not understand the gravity of your unique situation. As with many disability claims, they will likely not understand how your symptoms impact your ability to work. Since anxiety is a mental illness, there may not be as many physical factors to point to, rather than someone who suffered from a traumatic injury. Because of this, it is often more difficult to prove. In order to have your disability claim approved, you will need to show how your symptoms limit your capacity to perform work tasks.

For example, your anxiety might cause you to be unable to get out of bed because of panic or fatigue, which forces you to call in sick. A loss of focus or ability to concentrate due to your anxiety might make it harder to get work done. Your condition can also lead to safety issues if you work in a physical career. Social anxiety and phobias can exacerbate the normal stresses of the work environment and overwhelm you.

Providing Evidence From Your Doctor

Be sure to discuss any and all symptoms of your disorder with your primary care physician, therapist, and any other relevant doctors. You should also discuss the frequency and severity of symptoms. Your doctor’s reporting and support are key to developing a strong basis for building your case. Be sure to mention how these symptoms can reduce your ability to perform work tasks. Additionally, you should include information regarding any medications, such as your dosages and their side effects, in your long-term disability claim. Side effects from vital medications you take could further bolster your claim.

Official diagnoses of your mental illness from a licensed therapist or psychologist will also be vital in building your case.

Neuropsychological Evaluation

Neuropsychological Evaluation is a test that measures mental and cognitive deficits. The evaluation can objectively measure how your depression affects your cognitive ability. The evaluation will also provide an IQ test and additional screenings for further diagnoses. During the evaluation, your memory, problem-solving skills, processing speed, executive functioning, and more will be measured. The test also has parameters in place to help ensure that the individual is putting in their maximum effort. These parameters help legitimize the validity of your evaluation.

A Neuropsychological Evaluation can often be one of the strongest pieces of evidence to support your claim because it objectively shows how your cognitive function affects your ability to perform at work.

Getting Appropriate Treatment for your Mental Health Condition

As part of your long-term disability claim, you will need to show the insurance company that you are receiving appropriate treatment for your debilitating symptoms. In the case of debilitating mental health symptoms, you will need to show proof of ongoing treatment of your anxiety. Generally, this comes in the form of treatment from mental health specialists, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or neuropsychologist. In addition to therapy, treatment options may include:

  • Medication such as anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, or anti-anxiety medication.
  • Additional therapy options such as individual or group counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, or social rhythm therapy.
  • Hospitalization
  • And more.

Your doctors will be able to work with you to find what treatment options are right for you and your anxiety symptoms.

Mental Illness Limitations on Your Long-Term Disability Policies

When filing for long-term disability insurance for mental illness, it is important to check if your policy includes a Mental Illness Limitation. While policies may vary, it is common for a Mental Illness Limitation to limit your benefits to 2 years. However, some policies may have an even smaller limit.

If you are disabled solely due to your mental health condition, and no additional physical disability, your benefits may run out when you reach the Mental Illness Limitation. There are some exemptions to MIL’s, but they are generally reserved for specific conditions, such as bipolar disorder. However, if you can demonstrate objective proof of your cognitive limitations, such as with a neuropsychological evaluation, your benefits may extend past the limit.

Discuss with your disability attorney your options regarding your policy.

Can an Attorney Help Me Get Long-Term Disability for my Anxiety Disorder?

If you are looking to file a long-term disability claim for your mental health condition, you should seek out an experienced attorney. At D’Agostino & Associates, we help people living with disabling conditions such as Anxiety Disorder file long-term disability claims. We help you through the process step by step to help you build a strong case. Our law team is here for you.

At D’Agostino & Associates, our team of lawyers can help you sort through all the details, understand what you are entitled to, and fight to get what you deserve. D’Agostino & Associates P.C. has offices in New York and New Jersey. Contact us, or call us at 1-888-245-2924 to schedule a free consultation with our attorneys.