Author: John Colbert, Esq.
Are You Entitled to Benefits for Your Mental Disorder? Consult a Fox Valley Disability Lawyer to Find Out
While many Social Security disability beneficiaries receive benefits due to a mental health disorder, the Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t immediately guarantee benefits based on any specific mental impairment.
For example, an individual cannot receive benefits solely because they are diagnosed with a specific mental disorder. Rather, the SSA focuses on how severely their mental disorder limits their ability to work and function on a daily basis.
If you or a loved one needs help understanding how to qualify for Social Security disability benefits for a mental health disorder, a Fox Valley disability lawyer at Fitzgerald & Bomier can help. While every case is different, we have years of experience assisting individuals with mental and/or physical impairments receive the benefits they deserve.
Qualifying for Disability Benefits
The SSA reviews mental disorders in the same way they do physical impairments. In order to qualify for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits due to a mental disorder, your condition must be evaluated by a doctor and meet the requirements of the SSA’s strict criteria, including:
- Your condition must prevent you from continuing any job you have previously held.
- Due to the nature of your condition, you are unable to perform any work outside of your field.
- Your condition is long-term, meaning that it is expected to last at least a year or result in death.
If all of these criteria apply to you, the SSA may consider you to be disabled and possibly entitled to monthly benefits for your mental condition.
Determining Your Functional Capacity
Before awarding benefits for a mental disorder, the SSA will evaluate a wide variety of information about you. This includes medical evidence and your functional capacity in both social and work environments.
To determine the severity of your mental disorder, the SSA may look into your ability to conduct everyday activities such as cooking, cleaning, paying bills, and taking care of your own hygiene.
Furthermore, they may consider your ability to interact with friends, family, and those around you. How you function socially is an important factor because your ability to interact with others can significantly impact whether or not you are able to hold a job.
The SSA will use your functional capacity to determine if you are able to live independently and work effectively with others. Despite your mental condition, if they find that you are capable of holding gainful employment and performing daily activities, you will likely not qualify for disability benefits.
Mental Disorders Recognized by the SSA
While the SSA will always take your functional capacity into consideration, they do have several categories of mental illnesses that they recognize as a disability. If you meet the criteria for any of these mental disorders you may be granted disability benefits. The criteria are organized into 11 different categories and stated in the SSA’s Disability Evaluation Under Social Security Handbook:
- Neurocognitive disorders – Any disorder characterized by a significant decline in cognitive functioning, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, or traumatic brain disorders.
- Psychotic disorders – This can include schizophrenia, paranoia, or any disorder that involves delusions, hallucinations, or disorganized speech.
- Depressive, bipolar, and related disorders – Mood disorders that cause a loss of interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities.
- Intellectual disorders – A disorder characterized by significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning, significant deficits in current adaptive functioning, and manifestation of the disorder before age 22.
- Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders – Any disorder that causes excessive anxiety, worry, apprehension, and fear.
- Somatic symptom and related disorders – Conditions that arise for which the symptoms cannot be fully explained.
- Personality and impulse-control disorders – Disorders such as obsessive-compulsive personality disorder that are associated with inflexible, maladaptive, and pervasive patterns of behavior.
- Autism spectrum disorders – Mental impairments that affect social skills, behavior, and communication abilities.
- Neurodevelopmental disorders – Disorders that arise during the developmental period, although sometimes they are not diagnosed until adulthood. These can include learning disorders, Tourette syndrome, and more.
- Eating disorders – Mental disorders that affect eating behavior and obsession with body weight and shape.
- Trauma and stressor-related disorders – Any disorder that resulted after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic or stressful event.
While this list covers a wide span of mental health disorders, there are others that the SSA could possibly consider to be a disability. Any condition that prevents you from earning a living or carrying out daily responsibilities could entitle you to disability benefits.
Why You Need an Attorney
While it might seem straightforward, it can be challenging to prove to the SSA that your mental health disorder limits you to the point that you meet their definition of ‘disabled.’ This is where an experienced Fox Valley disability lawyer at Fitzgerald & Bomier can help. We’re knowledgeable about the complex Social Security system and can evaluate your case to determine whether or not you’re entitled to benefits.
Many individuals have their disability claims denied simply because they did not have enough evidence to prove the severity of their mental disorder. From medical documents to written letters from former employers, our smart legal team can ensure you have everything prepared to demonstrate how your mental condition has impacted your life.
Schedule a Free Legal Consultation Today
If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental health disorder and believe you’re entitled to SSDI or SSI benefits, don’t hesitate to contact the compassionate attorneys at Fitzgerald & Bomier today.
We understand the devastating impact a physical injury or mental health disorder can have on you and your family. That’s why our law office is dedicated to helping disabled individuals with their Social Security disability applications and appeals.
About The Author
John Colbert is a Social Security disability lawyer in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and has been practicing law for more than 25 years. John is the founder of Colbert Cooper Hill Attorneys and is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma College of Law.