When Does Anxiety Become a Long-Term Disability?

When Does Anxiety Become a Long-Term Disability?

Invisible disabilities are conditions that cannot be diagnosed with objective testing such as medical imaging, blood test or a physical examination. Examples of invisible disabilities include, but are not limited to, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and some back injuries. Invisible disabilities are often used by insurance companies to deny disability claims, as these conditions are difficult to quantify and hard to pin down.

Anxiety is defined as a condition that is characterized by persistent feelings of apprehension, tension, or uneasiness. For individuals who experience these symptoms to the point of disability, these feelings are not simple nervousness, but are overwhelming feelings of alarm and terror that can be provoked by daily events and situations.

There are five major types of anxiety disorders that are diagnosed:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder a constant state of tension and worry not related to any particular event or situation (this condition must last at least six months)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – repetitive or ritualistic behaviour performed to reduce or control symptoms such as recurrent thoughts or impulses
  • Panic Disorder – Repeated attacks of anxiety or terror that last up to ten minutes and have no identifiable cause
  • Phobias – overwhelming, irrational, and involuntary fears of common situations, things, places, or events
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – severe stress symptoms lasting more than a month caused by being a part of or witnessing a traumatic event


Is Anxiety a Long Term Disability?

Anxiety as a basis for long-term disability can be a tricky thing to attribute your troubles to. You need to take into account the Canadian disability laws, your work history, medical history, and how anxiety affects your work. It can be incredibly difficult to claim benefits on the basis of an anxiety disorder diagnosis because the medical evidence supporting the diagnosis can be seen as subjective and based on hard-to-document criteria that is reported to the doctor by the patient that occurs outside the doctor’s office.

According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, mental illness is a problem that affects one in five Canadians and costs the Canadian economy $50 billion in lost productivity each year. Many believe that this is a symptom of how the work we do has fundamentally changed. The type of work, pace of work, and the nature of the work we do today has shifted from physical to mental. And with this shift comes a shift in the typical types of illnesses that we see come out of the workplace.

Many people with these ‘invisible’ disabilities struggle with the choice to apply for disability insurance or make a claim. While the choice is ultimately yours, making a claim against your disability insurance will give you time to regroup, recharge, and get the help you need.

Stress and Anxiety about Filing a Claim or Applying for Disability

Stress or anxiety caused by worrying about whether or not to apply for long-term disability will only exacerbate the problem, and will only serve to increase your symptoms. After all, being on long-term disability leave is about making a plan to get better, relieving or eliminating symptoms, and trying to fulfill that plan to the best of your ability.

Another large stressor to your anxiety could be the fear of accessing your benefits, making your condition known, or applying for long-term disability for fear of being judged. Some people still think that there is a difference between breaking a leg and dealing with a mental illness. However, they are two examples of an overall issue that prevents us from working and living as we normally would.

If you are disabled because of an anxiety disorder that prevents you from working, you may be entitled to disability benefits. Although total disability based on anxiety symptoms can be difficult to prove due to the subjective nature of diagnosis, working closely with medical professionals and a qualified lawyer to collect and present the appropriate documentation to support your disability claim can help to ensure that you present the strongest possible disability case.

If you want to continue getting information about this and other relevant topics, sign up for our Share Perspectives Newsletter or get our free Disability Claim Booklet.  Want to know if you have a case? Find out in 5 steps or Contact Us today.