Can you get a 504 plan for anxiety?

By Andrew M.I. Lee, JD

Question:

Can a student get a 504 plan for anxiety?

Answer:

Yes. A student may qualify for a 504 plan if anxiety gets in the way of the student participating at school. The 504 plan aims to remove barriers caused by the anxiety.

Let’s get more specific. To get a 504 plan, a student must have a disability. A disability can include any condition that substantially limits learning or another major life activity. Depending on the student, anxiety can meet this definition.

For example, a student might be so anxious in a crowded classroom that they can’t complete schoolwork. Or they may be terrified by unexpected changes in their schedule. They also might get so anxious about doing homework correctly that it takes them much longer than it takes other students. 

Any of these students might be able to get a 504 plan. The plan can allow for changes to their school or homework routine to help reduce or stop their anxiety from interfering. These changes are called accommodations.

To put a 504 plan in place, the school must evaluate the student. School staff typically look at how the student’s anxiety impacts their school day or ability to complete work.

Having a medical diagnosis of an anxiety disorder may help a student qualify for a 504 plan, but it’s not automatic. Nor is it always necessary. Schools must do their own evaluation. This may just mean a meeting to review a diagnosis and discuss the child’s performance in school. Or an evaluation could mean something more formal. (Learn more about 504 plan evaluations.)

If a student qualifies for a 504 plan for anxiety, the school then puts in place supports and accommodations to help. This might mean frequent breaks, a quiet test room, or something else — whatever helps the student fully participate at school. 

What does this look like in practice? Check out this list of accommodations for anxiety.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Andrew M.I. Lee, JD is an editor and attorney who strives to help people understand complex legal, education, and parenting issues.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Miriam Nunberg, Esq., EdM is an attorney, advocate and consultant who helps parents of students with disabilities navigate the New York City public school system.