Question: Can I get Social Security disability for agoraphobia?
Answer: Yes, it is possible to get Social Security disability benefits on the basis of agoraphobia.
Agoraphobia is the fear of going outside. Even if you suffer from agoraphobia, the whole idea of being afraid of going outside sounds weird. Most agoraphobics are embarrassed to admit their problem because they know it sounds so odd.
Agoraphobia is caused by panic attacks. A panic attack is a “sudden onset of intense anxiety, characterized by feelings of intense fear and apprehension and [often] accompanied by palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating, and trembling.” Panic attacks are terrifying. No one works can ignore or work through a panic attack. No matter how well a person knows that there is no real reason for panic, having a panic attack is a horrible feeling. No one ever gets used to panic attacks. The terror produced by a panic attack is just as real when it happens for the 100th time as when it happens for the first time.
Going outside is not the only thing that provokes panic attacks but it is the most common. The only difference between someone who has panic attacks and who can leave the house and someone who has panic attacks and cannot leave the house on their own is the frequency of the panic attacks. If a person has them frequently, they generally are agoraphobic.
Being agoraphobic does not mean never leaving the house. Many people with agoraphobia do leave their houses regularly but they must have a security person with them — a husband, wife, child, father, mother, brother, sister or friend with them. With this person along the agoraphobic can function OK outside the house. Without the security figure with them, they just don’t leave the house.
Social Security certainly does recognize that agoraphobia can be disabling, although most of these cases have to go to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.