Getting Long-Term Disability (LTD) Benefits for Agoraphobia
Agoraphobia affects around two percent of adults and teenagers in the United States. Moreover, of the people with agoraphobia in the United States, about one-third had a panic attack before receiving an official diagnosis. For those who suffer from this condition, it can become debilitating.
Agoraphobia is a fear of being in places or situations where you may feel helpless, trapped, or embarrassed. Those who suffer from this condition often feel that if something were to happen, they could not get the help they need. For many, this means avoiding certain public spaces. However, when agoraphobia becomes severe, it can become impossible to even leave the house.
If your condition prevents you from performing the duties of your job, you must consider filing for long-term disability (LTD) benefits. These benefits can help protect your income and allow you to treat your condition without worrying about your next paycheck. Below we will discuss what you need to know about agoraphobia in relation to long-term disability benefits.
What Is Agoraphobia?
As mentioned, agoraphobia is a fear of being in a situation where you cannot escape. There is a common misconception that this condition is the fear of open spaces, but this is not entirely true. Rather, it is the fear that when you are in certain places, it is impossible to get out or get help. Places that tend to trigger this fear include:
- Open spaces, such as a shopping mall or an office.
- Places where there are crowds, such as a busy city.
- Buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation.
- Anywhere outside your own home.
Thus, a person suffering from agoraphobia may panic when on a public bus because they feel that they cannot escape if something bad were to happen. Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that can completely disrupt a person’s life.
While there is no clear cause of agoraphobia, some experts think that it may be genetic for some people. Other possible risk factors include:
- Being prone to panic attacks already.
- Having other phobias.
- Stressful life events, such as suffering from abuse or experiencing a loved one dying.
- Having a nervous or anxious disposition.
Agoraphobia tends to affect women more than men. In addition, people usually start to develop this condition before age 35.
Agoraphobia sufferers experience panic attacks when put into a triggering situation, such as the ones listed above. These attacks may be accompanied by excessive and intense fear that can completely cripple a person.
When a person has a panic attack caused by agoraphobia, they may experience some of the following symptoms:
- Chest pains
- Rapid heart rate
- Issues breathing
- Upset stomach
Moreover, when a person experiences fear and panic attacks, it may lead to fainting. Fainting can have serious consequences if a person hits their head on something as they are falling.
Additionally, those who suffer from agoraphobia may also be afraid of having the panic attack itself. They can have excessive worry over whether they will have another episode. As such, they tend to avoid places where they have had panic attacks before. Over time, this can lead to them not leaving their house.
If you believe you may have agoraphobia, you need to visit your doctor. Your doctor can diagnose you with this condition. Receiving an official diagnosis of agoraphobia may be essential if you decide to file for long-term disability benefits. Additionally, a diagnosis is necessary to receive proper treatment.
Your doctor will start by giving you a physical exam. This physical exam will help rule out any other potential conditions that may be causing your panic attacks. The doctor will also ask you about your symptoms. You may also need to see a mental health professional for an in-depth interview about what you are experiencing.
Your doctor may use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to decide whether your condition is agoraphobia or not.
There are typically two types of treatment for agoraphobia: psychotherapy and medication. Ordinarily, a person receives both at the same time.
Treatment is an important part of recovering from agoraphobia. Psychotherapy is one of the most effective ways of treating this condition. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most common form of psychotherapy used for sufferers of agoraphobia.
CBT is an effective method of treating agoraphobia because it focuses on teaching methods to better tolerate anxiety and how to directly challenge worry and fear. Moreover, CBT gives sufferers the necessary skills to retrain their way of thinking to overcome fear.
Medication is also a treatment option. Typically, there are two types of medication that may be prescribed:
- Antidepressants, such as Prozac and Zoloft; and
- Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines.
However, not all medications will work for everybody. If you suffer from agoraphobia, you may need to try different medications before finding the one that works for you. Moreover, it can take several weeks before you begin experiencing relief from your symptoms.
Additionally, these types of medications can easily become addictive, so your doctor will try not to have you on them for prolonged periods.
Can You Receive Long-Term Disability Benefits for Agoraphobia?
Yes, you can receive LTD benefits for agoraphobia. However, this condition is typically categorized with other panic and anxiety disorders. As such, you must prove that your agoraphobia completely debilitates you and prevents you from working.
Agoraphobia can make it impossible to work, especially when it is severe. For example, your condition may prevent you from working in-office, even though it is required as part of your job. In less severe cases, you may be able to work in-office, but your agoraphobia makes it difficult as you experience constant fear of having another panic attack.
When filing for long-term disability benefits, you must make sure you are receiving consistent treatment from your doctors. Most insurance companies’ LTD policies will look for this regular treatment as evidence of your condition.
How Can Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick Help with an LTD Claim for Agoraphobia?
Long-term disability benefits can protect your income if you are unable to work due to a disability. Agoraphobia, for example, can make it impossible to adequately perform the duties of your job. Your cognitive abilities will suffer, and if you have a panic attack, you can become completely immobilized with fear. You do not want the stress of worrying about your job on top of the anxiety that comes with your condition.
You should be focusing on your health. However, the LTD claim process is complex and time-consuming. Therefore, it is advantageous to contact a long-term disability attorney. With an attorney’s help, you can have more time to manage your condition. Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick understands how difficult this process is and wants to help shoulder the burden.
When you file for LTD benefits, you must submit evidence. Determining and collecting this evidence is time-consuming, but our legal team can do this for you. We will evaluate your long-term disability policy and collect the right evidence to prove your agoraphobia meets your policy’s definition of disability.
Insurance companies are also difficult to deal with, so we can act as a point of contact between you and them. Moreover, we will hold your insurer accountable and ensure they handle your claim fairly. While they should always handle claims fairly, this is not the reality.
Call CCK Today for a Free Consultation
Agoraphobia presents many challenges, especially when it comes to performing the duties of your job. The long-term disability lawyers at CCK understand this and are ready to assist you. Whether you need help filing an initial claim or you are appealing a denial of benefits, we have over 30 years of combined experience and can help.
Call us today at (800) 544-9144 for a free consultation with a member of our team. We will evaluate your case and see if we can help you.
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