What Is Agoraphobia and How to Get Disability Benefits for It?

by David F. Chermol on Mar. 08, 2021

Health Care 

Summary: Agoraphobia, the fear of being in enclosed or open spaces, such as being in a crowd can be a crippling anxiety disorder. You may avoid these places to prevent feelings of being trapped, embarrassed or helpless. You may also find difficulty in leaving your home in the first place if you have agoraphobia and decide to avoid certain activities altogether as a result.

Agoraphobia, the fear of being in enclosed or open spaces, such as being in a crowd can be a crippling anxiety disorder. You may avoid these places to prevent feelings of being trapped, embarrassed or helpless. You may also find difficulty in leaving your home in the first place if you have agoraphobia and decide to avoid certain activities altogether as a result.


With accurate documentation that you have a severe form of this psychiatric disorder, you may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. You may also have to show that your condition prevents you from taking on substantial  employment and from producing sufficient income. To determine whether you can avail of Agoraphobia disability benefits, read on.


Brief Description of Agoraphobia.


Agoraphobia is a fear of public places. You may experience panic attacks, anxiety, fear, nausea, dizziness, and even chest pain. If you don't know what a panic attack is, allow us to give you a short introduction.


  • Panic Attacks: When a wave of anxiety hits you out of fear,you may feel terrorized or apprehended, even if the triggering event has not happened yet. The thought alone of what you fear may cause you to panic. It may also show a few, more serious physical symptoms. You may start to sweat, tremble, get shortness of breath, get an increased heart  rate, feel dizzy, you may feel nausea and faint, have breathing problems and possibly even chest pain. All of these sums up to the symptoms of a panic attack.


When  you experience a panic attack due to your agoraphobia, you may experience a fear of the initiation of other panic attacks. You may seek to actively avoid  places and situations that trigger these attacks. Often, this may happen while you are in a crowd of unknown people.


Agoraphobia may harm your daily life by limiting your ability to leave your house. Shopping, going to the office, visiting family and friends, etc., become very problematic in such situations. Fewer visits to your family and friends' homes may not affect your financial condition, but not going to your workplace will.


When agoraphobia gets severe, you might withdraw yourself from society altogether and become homebound. Without support from your family and friends , you might not be able to get out of your house or go somewhere by yourself.


How Is Agoraphobia Diagnosed? 


If you believe that you may have Agoraphobia, you should  get a thorough physical and mental evaluation and diagnosis from a licensed physician. Explain your issues from your perspective, how long you have been experiencing symptoms and be sure to mention how it has affected your daily life. Antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications may cure or treat agoraphobia. Your mental health professional may prescribe this medicine along with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): It is a therapy that focuses on understanding your illness and the symptoms regarding the condition. Your mental health professional may try to desensitize your anxiety attacks by gradually but carefully exposing you to the situations that cause you anxiety in order to help you overcome your fear. Your problem may get better with these treatment sessions if you are in earlier stages of your disorder.


What Are The Social Security Laws Regarding Agoraphobia? 


There is a section in the blue book of the Social Security Administration, for anxiety disorders under listing 12.06. You may qualify for disability benefits if  your agoraphobia meets the criteria in this listing. To determine if your condition does, you have to show you are suffering from any or both of the following:


  • Panic attacks that are oriented towards fear, worry or concern about the potential to have further panic attacks.

  • You are getting anxious or fearful about more than one different situation. That may include waiting in a crowded line, taking public transportation, being in an enclosed or public place, going to a crowded place, etc.


You may also need to show that your limitations cause any one the following conditions severely, or two of them seriously:


  • You cannot manage yourself, such as regulate your emotions, control your behavior, and adapt to changes.

  • You cannot interact with others. This may include physically approaching a person.

  • You cannot concentrate on or complete any task or cannot  be productive.

  • You cannot remember or understand information or apply the wrong information to the wrong task, or both.


How To Prove Your Agoraphobia Is Severe Enough? 


The Social Security Administration considers your mental health professional's opinion regarding your condition. So, your doctor plays an essential role in decisions that are made in disability benefits cases. Your physician will need to file out a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form to state your work-related limitations.


Your RFC form has to state your diagnosis and address the following:

  • To what extent are you able to interact with supervisors and the public?

  • What is your capacity to maintain essential attendance at your job? Suppose you cannot contribute more than one working day. This is detrimental to your ability to take on full-time employment.

  • How much can you handle stressful situations?

  • Are you able to make work-related decisions or not?

  • Are you able to give proper attention to something and concentrate or not?

  • To what extent can you follow simple to complicated instructions, or not?


What If Your Issues Are More Than Just Agoraphobia? 


Suppose that you don't only have agoraphobia. Your doctor should take proper note of the other mental and physical conditions that you are suffering from. That may include the above symptoms that prevent you from performing certain tasks. So, the Social Security Administration may consider you a disabled person if your medical conditions limit your daily life, especially your capacity to work.


Your friends and family may also help you by reporting their witness accounts of your disability. They can explain their observation towards you while you are in public places and your actions while you are experiencing agoraphobia. Lastly, you may also submit a ‘statement of the claimant’ to the SSA about your condition. This may help to strengthen your case a lot.


Disability Lawyers in Philadelphia from Chermol & Fishman, LLC can help you fill out and submit your disability benefits application. If you hire our law firm to represent you, our experienced attorneys can provide you with legal assistance, gather the evidence for your case, file and submit your claim and represent you in court.

Legal Articles Additional Disclaimer

Lawyer.com is not a law firm and does not offer legal advice. Content posted on Lawyer.com is the sole responsibility of the person from whom such content originated and is not reviewed or commented on by Lawyer.com. The application of law to any set of facts is a highly specialized skill, practiced by lawyers and often dependent on jurisdiction. Content on the site of a legal nature may or may not be accurate for a particular state or jurisdiction and may largely depend on specific circumstances surrounding individual cases, which may or may not be consistent with your circumstances or may no longer be up-to-date to the extent that laws have changed since posting. Legal articles therefore are for review as general research and for use in helping to gauge a lawyer's expertise on a matter. If you are seeking specific legal advice, Lawyer.com recommends that you contact a lawyer to review your specific issues. See Lawyer.com's full Terms of Use for more information.