Saturday, June 30, 2012

Can I receive Social Security Disability benefits based on my mental condition?

The short answer is "YES."  Individuals can apply for Social Security Disability benefits based on a mental condition.  The Social Security Administration will consider most mental conditions including, but certainly not limited to, anxiety, depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, and personality disorders.  That being said, the decision as to whether you are eligible for Social Security Disability benefits does not come down to the diagnosis of a mental condition.  Instead, the Social Security Administration will determine whether your mental condition meets a medical listing (per Social Security's rules and regulations) or prevents you from sustaining employment on a regular basis -- 8 hours a day 5 days a week.

To determine whether your mental impairment meets a medical listing or affects your ability to sustain a full-time job, the state disability agency (that is contracted with the Social Security Administration to make initial determinations regarding your disability) will send you, and often times third parties, questionnaires to complete regarding your daily activities.  It is very important that you complete these questionnaires as accurately and comprehensively as possible so that you provide an accurate description of your daily activities.  For this reason, it is often very beneficial to consult with an experienced Social Security Disability attorney as early as possible in the application process. 

Along with completing questionnaires, the state disability agency will request and review medical records and often times arrange for you to attend a consultative examination with a mental health professional.  These consultative examinations are short and often times provide inadequate descriptions of your mental impairments.  However, the Social Security Administration will use these consultative examinations to deny benefits.  For this reason, it is crucial for any individual applying for Social Security Disability benefits on the basis of a mental condition to document their condition by establishing a complete medical record with their own treating physicians.  Moreover, when treating with a mental health professional for a significant amount of time, you can usually obtain statements from your physician documenting the limitations you face as a result of your mental health condition.  Such medical records and statements will go a long way in helping you prove your claim for Social Security Disability benefits.

If you or someone you know is seeking Social Security Disability benefits for a mental health condition, it is important to consult with an experienced Social Security Disability attorney early on in the process.

This is NOT legal advice.  This blog provides general information about Social Security Disability cases.  To discuss your particular circumstances and claim, please contact a lawyer in your area.

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