Is Panic Disorder a Disability? Understanding Your Rights.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), approximately 6 million adults have panic disorder in the United States. Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that is characterized by sudden and unexpected panic attacks, which are often accompanied by physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating, trembling, and shortness of breath. Panic disorder can significantly impair an individual’s quality of life, and it may also impact their ability to work and perform daily activities. In this article, we will explore the topic of panic disorder as a disability and the rights of individuals with panic disorder.

What is a Disability?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include tasks such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, and performing manual tasks. The ADA provides protection against discrimination for individuals with disabilities in many areas of life, including employment, housing, transportation, and public accommodation.

Is Panic Disorder Considered a Disability?

Yes, panic disorder can be considered a disability under the ADA if it substantially limits one or more major life activities. Panic disorder may limit an individual’s ability to work, socialize, and perform daily activities. In some cases, individuals with severe panic disorder may be unable to leave their home or engage in any activities outside of their home. This can significantly impact their employment opportunities and their ability to participate in community life.

How is Panic Disorder Evaluated as a Disability?

The evaluation of panic disorder as a disability is based on the individual’s specific symptoms and their impact on major life activities. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a five-step process to determine whether an individual with a mental health condition, including panic disorder, is eligible for disability benefits. The steps include:

  • Evaluating whether the individual is engaging in substantial gainful activity
  • Determining whether the individual has a severe mental health condition
  • Reviewing whether the individual’s mental health condition meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments in the SSA’s Blue Book
  • Assessing the individual’s residual functional capacity (RFC) to determine what work-related activities they are capable of performing
  • Determining whether there are any jobs in the national economy that the individual can perform given their RFC and other limitations

What Types of Disability Benefits are Available for Individuals with Panic Disorder?

Individuals with panic disorder may be eligible for two types of disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both of these programs are administered by the SSA and provide financial assistance to individuals with disabilities.

SSDI is available to individuals who have worked and paid Social Security taxes for a certain number of years. The amount of SSDI benefits that an individual receives is based on their work history and earnings. SSI, on the other hand, is a needs-based program that provides financial assistance to individuals who have limited income and resources.

What are Your Rights as an Individual with Panic Disorder?

Individuals with panic disorder have the right to be free from discrimination in many areas of life, including employment, housing, and public accommodation. The ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities and requires employers, landlords, and others to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities.

What is a Reasonable Accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job or working environment that enables an individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of their job. Reasonable accommodations may include things like modifying work schedules, providing assistive technology or equipment, or allowing for additional breaks or time off. It is the responsibility of the employer or other entity to provide reasonable accommodations, but the individual with the disability must request the accommodation.

How Do You Request a Reasonable Accommodation?

If you have a panic disorder and need a reasonable accommodation in your workplace, you should speak with your employer or human resources representative. You should explain your needs and how they relate to your panic disorder, and you should request the specific accommodation that you need. Your employer must engage in an interactive process with you to determine what reasonable accommodations are appropriate.

What Should You Do If You Experience Discrimination?

If you believe that you have experienced discrimination based on your panic disorder, you should contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), depending on the nature of the discrimination. These agencies investigate claims of discrimination and may help you to obtain a resolution to your complaint.


Panic disorder can significantly impact an individual’s life, and it may also qualify them for disability benefits and anti-discrimination protections under the ADA. Individuals with panic disorder have the same rights as any other person, and they may request reasonable accommodations in the workplace or other areas of life. If you have a panic disorder and believe that your rights have been violated, you should seek legal guidance to determine what steps you can take to protect your rights and obtain a resolution to your complaint.

Common Questions about Panic Disorder and Disability

  • Q: Can I receive disability benefits for panic disorder under the ADA?
  • A: The ADA provides anti-discrimination protections for individuals with panic disorder, but disability benefits are determined through a separate process with the SSA.
  • Q: What are the types of accommodations that may be available to me if I have panic disorder?
  • A: Accommodations for individuals with panic disorder may include things like modified work schedules, assistive technology or equipment, or additional breaks or time off.
  • Q: What should I do if I believe that I have experienced discrimination based on my panic disorder?
  • A: You should contact the appropriate government agency, such as the EEOC or HUD, and file a complaint to investigate your claim of discrimination.


Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (n.d.). Panic Disorder. Retrieved from

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (n.d.). Disability Discrimination. Retrieved from

Social Security Administration. (n.d.). Disability Benefits. Retrieved from

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