SSDI and Mental Disorders

Social Security Disability Insurance can be collected when a person becomes disabled through injury or illness by no fault of their own. This program is designed to benefit individuals who have been working for the majority of their adult life.

When people think of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), physical injuries usually come to mind. SSDI, however, can be collected for both physical and mental disabilities. Typically, mental illnesses are more difficult to diagnose, and therefore more difficult to gain approval for disability insurance"Paperwork".

In a section titled, “How the SSA Views Mental Claims,” further explains why mental illness is a tricky subject when it comes to SSDI:

“Disability Claims Examiners who work for Social Security are not licensed psychiatrists, and do not always understand the full scope of the limitations imposed by certain mental illnesses. For instance, some disability examiners do not recognize the cyclical nature of mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder or manic depression, and therefore assume a patient is cured because he or she does not currently display certain symptoms, when in reality those symptoms have just disappeared for the moment, and are almost certain to return in the near future. In addition, some disability examiners are biased against disability claims for mental illness.”

The Social Security Administration has a very strict process for evaluating disability claims. When evaluating mental disorders in adults, the SSA considers three specific things: 1) documentation of medically determinable impairment(s), 2) consideration of the degree of limitation such impairment(s) may impose on the individual’s ability to work, and 3) consideration of whether these limitations have lasted or are expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.

The SSA also classifies mental disorders into nine diagnostic categories:

  1. Organic mental disorders
  2. Schizophrenic, paranoid, and other psychotic disorders
  3. Affective disorders
  4. Intellectual disability
  5. Anxiety-related disorders
  6. Somatoform disorders
  7. Personality disorders
  8. Substance addiction disorders
  9. Autistic disorder and other pervasive developmental disorders

Mental disorders from each of these categories have the potential to affect individuals to the point where they can no longer function properly. Not being able to function means not being able to work, which is where the benefits of having SSDI come into play. As is the case with physical illnesses, the SSA will evaluate your claim for SSDI based on the medical records that are on file for you. If you claim to have a medical disorder that prohibits you from working but you are not able to prove it, your claim will be denied. Records of doctor’s visits, therapy appointments, and prescription medications need to be kept and properly updated to help establish the severity of your condition.

The Social Security Disability Insurance Program claims process can be difficult to navigate, especially if you trying to manage a difficult mental disorder. At Summit Disability Law Group, we want to do everything in our power to make things easier for you. If we take your case, we will help you navigate through the claims process and paperwork, and help you avoid legal red tape that may cause you to be permanently denied benefits. If you have questions about how your mental condition affects your SSDI claim, call us today at (801) 890-1030.

Photo Courtesy of Heather and Creative Commons.