A suspicious man looking at his window.

Individuals who suffer from agoraphobia may qualify for Social Security disability if the condition affects their ability to function in normal activities, including work. This condition is a mental impairment that falls under anxiety disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).

What Is Agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that causes people to fear public places, riding transportation, or crowded places. Often the condition develops after a person has had a previous panic attack or trauma. Some people may require a companion when leaving home. However, in severe cases, leaving the home is enough to provoke a full-blown anxiety attack.

Agoraphobia can trigger feelings of helplessness, fear of becoming trapped, or embarrassment from exhibiting noticeable signs of anxiety. To cope with the condition, a person may withdraw and avoid all types of situations that make him or her feel out of control.

A Formal Diagnosis Is Needed

Agoraphobia may be treated with medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. It is essential that if someone suspects he or she has agoraphobia, the steps toward formal diagnosis are taken, especially if the individual intends to apply for disability benefits.

To be officially diagnosed as agoraphobic, the person must go through a psychological evaluation. Psychiatrists and psychologists are trained to recognize signs of anxiety disorders, like agoraphobia. It is also recommended that the individual see a primary care physician to have an exam to determine if the anxiety is causing or caused by health issues. These medical professionals will determine if the person’s condition is severe enough to warrant a formal diagnosis and treatment.

Applying for Disability Benefits

Individuals with severe agoraphobia may be eligible for disability benefits. Meeting the Social Security Administration’s Listing 12.06 prerequisites in its “blue book” helps strengthen cases. To qualify for disability benefits, an agoraphobic person must have a formal diagnosis, experience panic attacks, and fear future panic attacks. Having increased anxiety toward two or more scenarios, such as leaving the house, being in a crowd, or driving in traffic, could be a qualifying factor for disability.

To apply for disability benefits, the claimant must fill out a form that establishes the diagnosis and his or her inability to keep focus, follow directions, perform under pressure, or interact with coworkers. If the initial claim is denied, the claimant may file for an appeal.