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SSD Benefits for Mental Health in Alabama

At Walton Law, we understand the significant impact mental health issues can have on your everyday life. When mental illness makes it difficult or impossible to work, you may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.

If you’re suffering a mental illness and your SSD application has been denied, our attorneys can help. For more than 15 years, Walton Law has been assisting residents of Robertsdale, Mobile, Fairhope, and nearby Alabama communities who have been denied SSD benefits.

Which Mental Health Issues Qualify for Social Security Disability?

The Social Security Administration’s Blue Book, which establishes guidelines for conditions that qualify for SSD, covers nine categories of mental illnesses. These include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Affective disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Autism and related disorders
  • Substance addiction
  • Mental retardation
  • Organic mental disorders
  • Schizophrenia, paranoia and psychotic disorders
  • Somatoform disorders

Each category of disorders is evaluated based on a unique set of criteria. In order to qualify for benefits, you must be able to show that you are receiving and complying with treatment.

Anxiety Disorders

To qualify for benefits, you must have medical evidence of at least one of the following:

  • Constant irrational fear
  • Persistent anxiety with appropriate symptoms
  • Recurring compulsions and obsessions that lead to significant distress
  • Recurring, unpredictable, weekly panic attacks

You must be able to show that these conditions significantly impair your ability to function in work and social conditions.

Affective Disorders

Each affective disorder has its own list of requirements to qualify for benefits, but generally, you must have medical documentation showing that the condition affects your ability to function despite undergoing treatment.

You must be able to show that:

  • You have been in treatment for two years and are unable to function outside of a supportive environment, or
  • That you have medical documentation supporting your claim that your condition prevents you from functioning as expected in a work environment.

Personality Disorders

To qualify for benefits, you must be able to show that your condition prevents you from adapting to social or work situations and has caused long-term problems. The condition must cause at least one of the following symptoms:

  • Inappropriate hostility
  • Autistic thinking
  • Aggressiveness
  • Seclusion
  • Inappropriate suspiciousness
  • Passiveness
  • Dependence
  • Constant mood disturbances
  • Odd though, behavior, speech or perception patterns
  • Impulsive and damaging behavior

Autism and Related Disorders

To qualify for SSD, you must be able to show that your condition limits your ability to communicate, interact socially, and engage in activities outside of a few interests. You must also be able to show that these limitations greatly hinder your ability to function in work and social situations.

Substance Addiction

Those who are suffering with substance addiction may qualify for SSD benefits if the substance abuse is causing one of the other listed mental disorders, a neurological disorder or a digestive disorder.

Mental Retardation

A person may qualify for SSD benefits under this category if there is medical documentation showing any of the following:

  • IQ of less than 60
  • IQ of less than 70 when combined with other conditions that limit the person’s ability to function in work or social situations
  • Dependence for personal needs, such as eating, bathing, dressing and using the toilet

Organic Mental Disorders

Like with affective disorders, those who suffer with organic mental disorders can qualify for benefits if they can show that their condition has continued for two years and despite getting treatment, they are still unable to perform basic work functions.

Additionally, you may qualify if you are suffering with:

  • Personality changes
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Mood disturbances
  • Time and place disorientation
  • Significant limitation of daily living activities

Schizophrenia, Paranoia and Psychotic Disorders

Those suffering with psychotic disorders, such as paranoia or schizophrenia, may qualify for benefits if they have been suffering for at least two years and there is evidence that they cannot function outside of a supportive environment.

You may also qualify for SSD if you have one of the following conditions and that condition is affecting your ability to function in work and social environments:

  • Catatonia
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganized behavior
  • Delusions
  • Illogical thinking
  • Incoherence
  • Isolation and emotional withdrawal

Somatoform Disorders

To qualify for SSD under this category, you must be able to show that by age 30, you had a history of unexplained physical symptoms that last several years and require you to make significant lifestyle changes.

Typically, applicants may qualify if their condition’s symptoms involve the loss of:

  • Sight
  • Hearing
  • Movement
  • Speech
  • The use of one or more limbs

Other Qualifying Conditions

There are several other mental illnesses that may also qualify for SSD benefits, including:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • Mood disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Panic attacks
  • Memory loss
  • Social anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Chronic insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

How Much Can I Receive in SSD Benefits?

If you are eligible to receive SSD benefits, the amount you receive each month will be based on the average of your lifetime earnings prior to your disability. SSD is not based on the severity of your condition, but rather, how much you contributed to Social Security taxes during your working years.

SSD recipients typically receive between $800 and $1,800 per month. However, payments may be reduced if you are receiving disability payments from other sources.

Why Was My Claim Denied?

Mental illnesses are complex, and unlike physical disabilities, typically don’t present external symptoms. Because the disability cannot be seen, it can be more challenging to prove that the condition is impacting your ability to work. Mental health issues certainly do impact a person’s ability to function and work, but unfortunately, a large number of SSD applications for mental illnesses are denied.

Denials are typically due to:

  • Lack of treatment history: The SSA may deny your claim if you have no medical evidence that you received or are receiving treatment for your mental illness.
  • Lack of a firm diagnosis by a specialist: The SSA will want clear proof of a diagnosis of your mental condition.
  • The SSA considers you employable: Even if you are deemed unfit to return to your previous job, the SSA may still find that you are able to perform another job and deny your claim.

It’s important to remember that the administrators who approve or deny SSD claims are not psychiatrists and do not always understand the nature of some mental health issues.

If you are denied SSD benefits, you have a right to appeal your claim. We can help.

How Can I Get Help with My SSD Application?

The attorneys at Walton Law, LLC can help you with your SSD application for mental health issues. Remember – if we can’t recover benefits on your behalf, you won’t be charged any legal fees. Call us today at 251-494-2619 to schedule a free case evaluation or send us a message through our online contact form.

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