Roughly one-third of new applications for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits each year involve mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and other mental health conditions. However, these claims are often denied.
If you are applying for disability benefits based on a mental disorder, it’s in your best interest to consult an attorney as soon as possible. You need someone who is experienced in Social Security disability law to help you prepare an application that thoroughly documents your condition and how it affects your ability to work.
Categories of Mental Health Disorders
The Social Security Disability Blue Book, also referred to as the Listing of Impairments, outlines 11 categories of mental disorders that can qualify for benefits.
- Neurocognitive disorders
- Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders
- Depressive, bipolar, and related disorders
- Intellectual disorders
- Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders
- Somatic symptom and related disorders
- Personality and impulse-control disorders
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Neurodevelopmental disorders
- Eating disorders
- Trauma- and stressor-related disorders
Since the Blue Book only includes listings for the most common conditions, you can still receive benefits if your impairment isn’t listed. However, you will need to provide evidence that your condition meets or exceeds the limitations in a Blue Book listing.
Why Claims for Mental Health Disorders Are Often Denied
Although every case is different, there are some common issues that result in SSDI benefits being denied for mental health conditions. These include:
Physical illness or injury can normally be proven beyond doubt with X-rays, blood tests, and other diagnostic tools. Mental illness must be diagnosed based on the patient’s self-reporting of symptoms and a doctor’s evaluation—which leaves room for disagreement among medical providers.
Lack of supportive evidence
Providing evidence that supports your own evaluation of your condition is crucial. An SSDI application for mental illness should include IQ and memory impairment tests, reports from a psychiatrist, testimony from a social worker, and letters from friends, family, or coworkers detailing how your impairment affects your everyday life.
Non-compliance with doctor-recommended treatment
Whenever a patient doesn’t fully cooperate with the recommended care plan, it calls the seriousness of their illness into question. However, individuals with serious mental health disorders are often non-compliant due to the nature of their condition and the side effects that medications can have.
Poor quality treatment
There is a serious shortage of mental health specialists in the U.S., but receiving treatment from a specialist is the best way to support your SSDI application. Recommendations from a general practitioner with no advanced training in managing mental illness won’t be looked upon as favorably.
Even though the law allows applicants with mental health conditions to receive SSDI benefits, there is still a strong bias against people who are struggling with depression, anxiety, and other related conditions. Examiners may make unfair assumptions about a person’s ability to work regardless of the official Social Security Administration (SSA) rules.
How an Attorney Can Help
Some of the specific ways an attorney can help with your disability claim include:
- Gathering the necessary evidence
- Finding relevant medical experts
- Coming up with a plan to deal with evidence that could potentially hurt your case
- Filling out paperwork on your behalf
- Representing you at your appeal
- Preparing you to testify at your disability hearing
Keep in mind that there is no upfront expense for hiring a Social Security disability lawyer. Your attorney will be paid from your back pay when you are approved for benefits, and the fees charged for legal representation are strictly regulated by the SSA.
Benefits for Children and Adults With Insufficient Work History
Generally, you must have paid into Social Security for at least five of the last 10 years to have earned enough credits to qualify for SSDI. Children and adults who don’t meet the work credit requirement can apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. However, SSI has strict requirements for income, resources, and assets that must be met in order to continue receiving benefits.
Have You Or A Loved One Been Denied Social Security Disability Benefits?
If you or a loved on has been denied Social Security Disability Benefits you need to speak with an experienced SSD attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Virginia Beach office directly at 757.490.3500 to schedule your free consultation. We have offices throughout Virginia including Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk and Suffolk.