The federal and state long-term disability programs available to Ohio residents do cover mental disorders, including social anxiety disorder. Simply documenting the existence of a persistent, treatment-resistant condition, however, will not qualify you to receive disability benefits for anxiety and depression from the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) or through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

At our Cleveland offices, we have helped hundreds of people navigate the OPERS and SSDI application and appeals processes. These decades of experience convince us that we cannot answer everyone’s questions in a brief blog post. What we are able to do is outline the qualification criteria for SSDI benefits for anxiety. We focus on the federal program because the majority of people who apply will only be eligible to petition Social Security. Only state and local government employees, as well as educators and public school staff, who never paid into Social Security, will be eligible to apply for OPERS disability benefits.

We invite anyone who has specific issues related to securing federal long-term disability benefits or who is dealing with OPERS to contact us online or call us at (800) 678-3318 to schedule a free consultation. We can come to you if your health or financial circumstances make visiting us impractical.

Who Qualifies for SSDI Benefits for Social Anxiety Benefits?

As noted, an SSDI applicant must have paid into the federal retirement and disability program, usually through deductions from their paychecks. Children and legal minor dependents of adults who paid into Social Security may also qualify for SSDI.

Proof of U.S. citizenship is almost always required, and medical documentation of a condition that has kept the applicant from working for at least 12 consecutive months must be submitted. As explained in the Social Security Administration’s official Listing of Impairments, social anxiety disorder qualifies for SSDI coverage when the applicant submits evidence that they suffer from three of the following symptoms:

  • Restlessness,
  • Easily fatigued,
  • Difficulty concentrating,
  • Irritability,
  • Muscle tension, or
  • Sleep disturbance.

The symptoms must also cause “extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of the following areas of mental functioning”:

  • Understand, remember, or apply information;
  • Interact with others;
  • Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace; and/or
  • Adapt or manage oneself.

In some cases, a person who has experienced social anxiety symptoms for two years or more while undergoing treatment and maintaining some employment and functionality can qualify to receive SSDI benefits. Qualifying under this last set of criteria requires submitting a great deal of documentation from doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, and members of what the Social Security Administration calls an applicant’s “psychosocial support” network (i.e., friends, family members, fellow members of support groups).

Not Just Anxiety

SSDI potentially covers all disabling mental disorders, including, but not limited to,

  • Schizophrenia,
  • Psychotic disorders,
  • Bipolar disorder,
  • Major depressive disorder,
  • Obsessive-Compulsive disorder,
  • Personality and impulse-control disorder,
  • Autism spectrum disorders,
  • Eating disorders, and
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.

The standards for considering the presence of such conditions permanently disabling remain largely the same. For instance, hallucinations triggered by schizophrenia must render an applicant incapable of concentrating and managing oneself. Similarly, an eating disorder must make an applicant incapable of maintaining pace. perhaps due to physical weakness from malnutrition.