Social Security Disability Benefits for Mental Illnesses and Disorders
Every day that you go to work is another day that you work towards Social Security. Going to work each day also helps you in the event that you need to file for Social Security Disability Benefits should you suffer a mental illness or another disorder that keeps you out of work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) runs two programs for those who suffer from mental illness, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Let’s take a look at both of these programs and how they work.
What is the Blue Book?
If you have filed an SSDI or SSI claim in the past, you have likely come across the term the “Blue Book.” This is a book published and used by the SSA that outlines the categories of mental disorders that are covered by the agency and the benefits provided to the public. The categories include the following:
- Mental retardation
- Anxiety disorders
- Affective disorders
- Substance addiction
- Personality disorders
- Organic mental disorders
- Somatoform disorders
- Schizophrenia and psychotic disorders
Each one of the disorders listed in the Blue Book is evaluated based on individual criteria. In order for someone asking for benefits to receive them, he or she must meet the criteria for the disorder they claim they have. Or, the claimant must show that the total of all their disabling conditions meet the criteria in the Blue Book or that the total (of their disabling conditions) prevents the claimant from taking part in gainful activities. No matter the disability you claim to have, you will need to prove to the SSA that you are complying with and undergoing treatment for the disorder if you want to qualify for benefits.
Mental Illness Claims and the SSA
It is important to look at the SSA and how the agency views mental illness claims so you understand what to expect when filing a claim. For starters, the employees assigned to review these claims are not licensed doctors or psychiatrists. They don’t always understand the full scope of limitations that a mental disorder places on a claimant. The best example of this misunderstanding is bipolar disorder. The examiner might not know that this disorder is cyclical, which means the patient might not exhibit symptoms right now but might months from now.
What is a Mental RFC?
It is entirely possible that your mental condition is not as severe as the requirements outlined in the nine categories in the Blue Book. You might still have trouble working, which means you would benefit from receiving SSI or SSDI benefits from the SSA. Should your mental residual functional capacity (RFC) show that you have functional, social, or intellectual limitations that hurt your productivity or affects whether or not you can hold down full-time work, you could be eligible for what is known as a medical-vocational allowance. The medical-vocational allowance is based on your job skills, education level, age, and mental limitations.
Applying for Benefits
The first step in applying for benefits from the SSA is to contact the agency office nearest you and inform them of your intent to apply for benefits. The agency will schedule an interview with you and review the information you have provided about your mental illness. After the interview, the examiner will make a decision about whether or not you will be awarded benefits. In the majority of cases, the SSA will deny an initial claim. You can either drop the case completely or file an appeal. To increase your chances of approval during your initial application, it is best to work with a skilled attorney. If you have been denied Social Security disability benefits, this does not necessarily mean you should give up. In many cases, you can have this denial reversed upon appeal.
Contact an Experienced Social Security Attorney Today
Are you struggling to make ends meet after suffering a mental illness? Was your Social Security Disability claim denied? Do you need to make an appeal? If you are in the Mobile, Alabama area, call the office of Walton Law, LLC today at 251-455-5819 to schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney. We will meet with you to thoroughly examine your case and advise you of your rights and options.