Mental Illness is considered to be a disability for SSI and SSDI. Some of the mental problems that can be disabling are: Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Panic Attacks, PTSD, Cognitive Disorders (low or borderline intelligence), Schizophrenia. It is very difficult to receive disability payments for these conditions unless a person is currently being treated by a mental health professional. Generally, receiving medication from a primary care provider is not considered to be sufficient treatment to be disabled.
Social Security looks at the limitations caused by mental illness, not just a diagnosis. They look at a person’s ability to perform activities of daily living (such as cooking, cleaning, shopping, driving). They look at social functioning (the ability to get along with co-workers, the public, and supervisors). They look at the ability to maintain concentration, persistence, or pace. And, they look at repeated episodes of de-compensation or relapse under working conditions.
Even if you do not meet the SSA disability requirements for mental impairments specifically, you may still be able to get benefits through a medical-vocational allowance – determined by your ability to work considering your mental impairments and other physical impairments.
If you want to get benefits based on your mental impairments you should be receiving treatment, including therapy and medications from a mental health professional. Or, if you have a learning disorder or limited ability to read, you will need to have school records with IQ results.
The SSA requires that you prove that you are unable to work, or at least work in the same capacity you were before. To prove your disability, you will need to gather evidence, including signed forms from your doctor explaining your condition.
You can apply for disability in the following ways:
Probably the least desirable option is to walk into the Social Security office without an appointment. You may have to wait a long time before you can talk to someone about your application. Calling to apply allows you to speak with a representative. They can help you with the application, and applying online is often the fastest option.
Be prepared for denial of your initial application. The SSA tends to deny claims the first time around. You will need to appeal if you want to get your benefits. The appeal process can take a significant amount of time, over a year in some cases. Prepare yourself for a wait. By demonstrating your disability, there is a chance you will get your benefits, but it will probably not happen quickly.
To improve your chances of getting your benefits and eliminate much of the uncertainty of the application and appeals process, you should work with an attorney experienced in SSI and SSDI. A skilled attorney can help ensure that everything is done right the first time. Correctly collecting information minimizes the chances of rejection. Your lawyer will be useful in the appeals process. You may need to speak to a judge and present your case before SSA accepts your claim.
The North Country law firm of Mark Schneider has helped many, many clients through the SSI/SSDI process, and we are here to do the same for you. Please contact us now to get started on the application or appeals process. The sooner we begin, the sooner we can get you your benefits.Mark Schneider
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