Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are intended to cover a wide range of disabilities and disorders, including mental conditions. Up to one-fifth of all claims for disability are for mental health issues. As the stigma against mental health and related problems decreases, more Americans are likely to step forward and claim disability benefits.
The attorneys of Nikolaus & Hohenadel, LLP, are experienced with handling SSD claims for mental disabilities. If you or a loved one are unable to work because of one of these conditions, we’re ready to help.
Mental Health Conditions That May Qualify For Disability Benefits
The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a set of medical conditions that can qualify an applicant for automatic SSD benefits. Known as the Listing of Impairments, or simply the listings, these conditions are considered so severe that an individual suffering from them is considered disabled as a matter of law. The listings include (but is not limited to):
Organic mental disorders. These are caused by injury, disease, chemical, hormonal, or other physical ailments rather than psychiatric illnesses. Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are two examples.
Anxiety disorders. These disorders are characterized by excessive worry or fear, and include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Personality disorders. Extreme distrust, social avoidance, impulsive anger, and inappropriate social behavior mark these disorders. Some examples are paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, and antisocial personality disorders.
Substance abuse disorders. A variety of alcohol and drug addictions fall in this category. To qualify, the substance abuse disorder must be a contributing factor to your disability.
Autism. Also known as autism spectrum disorder, this group is marked by difficulties socializing and communicating with others. Included is Asperger syndrome.
Intellectual disorders. These include disorders marked by exceptionally low IQ and difficulty with daily functioning.
Depression, bipolar, and related disorders. Evidence associated with these disorders usually includes extreme sadness, feelings of hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, sleep difficulties, decreased energy, and loss of appetite.
You or someone you love may have another disability besides those contained in the listings. Whatever mental health condition you have, if it prevents you from working, you may be able to file a claim for disability benefits.
The Challenges Of Winning SSD For Mental Disorders
The SSA is known for rejecting legitimate claims of mental disabilities. That’s because unlike physical injuries and diseases, it’s much more difficult to “see” a mental condition. There is also growing evidence that, unfortunately, dishonest people try to fake a mental problem to win disability benefits. Not only does this cheat the system, it makes it much harder for people with legitimate mental disabilities to get the financial support they need.
For those reasons, it’s important that your mental condition is well-documented. If you have suffered with the disability for a long time, or have taken medications for a number of years, this will work in your favor. The same is true if you have had to see a doctor frequently over an extended period of time, or if you have been referred to a specialist.
The SSA typically relies upon medical doctors who will perform an examination of the applicant. But this examination is usually limited and may be insufficient to adequately assess the applicant’s mental condition. This may cause the SSA to deny a claim, and is just one reason why having significant medical evidence on your side is so critical.
There may be other strategies that can help an applicant support their claim of a mental disability. For example, if the disability was caused by a physical injury, the applicant may be able to more fully document the nature of their condition. There may have been a traumatic or violent event that triggered a psychological reaction and subsequent mental problem. Here again, the more evidence you have to document the cause, nature, and extent of the disability, the better.
How An Experienced Pennsylvania Social Security Disability Lawyer Can Help
The Social Security disability application process is complex, and failure to abide by the strict rules set by the SSA can cause your claim to be rejected. Having an experienced SSD benefits attorney is essential to making sure your rights are protected and that you receive the maximum compensation allowed. It’s also important to have an attorney who is specifically knowledgeable about mental disability claims.
Your lawyer can help with the critical step of documenting your or your loved one’s mental disability. We will review your medical evidence to determine if your condition matches one contained in the listings. In the event you are unable to locate the records needed, or you’re missing some of them, we can help you find the evidence and possibly obtain further testing to strengthen your application.
If your application for SSD benefits has been rejected, that’s not necessarily the final word. Case reviewers who examine applications don’t always make the correct call, which is why the SSA has set up an appeals process. A skilled Social Security Disability benefits attorney can help you appeal a wrongful denial of your application. If necessary, your case may be heard by an administrative law judge. Our law firm can work with you through each step of appealing your claim.
Contact Our Lancaster Mental Health Disability Claim Attorney
Living with a mental disability poses significant challenges, and one of those is the ability to hold down gainful employment. If you or a loved one have suffered a mental condition that is making work more difficult or impossible, Social Security Disability benefits may be an option. At Nikolaus & Hohenadel, LLP, we champion the rights of disability applicants. When you retain us as your law firm, you have a trusted ally that will walk with you from start to finish. Give us a call today to discuss your legal rights.