Mental Disability - Social Security Disability, SSI, and Mental Disabilities
Just a few short notes on filing for social security disability or SSI based on a disability the nature of which is psychological or psychiatric. First off, the question - Can you be approved for disability benefits on the basis of mental disabilities? Answer: yes you can.
Second question - Which mental disabilitis can you get awarded disability benefits for? Answer: any mental impairment that results in functional limitations sufficient enough to:
1. Prevent you from working (at the last job you did, at one of the jobs you did in the past, or at a suitable form of "other work", as determined by the social security administration)
2. Earning a minimum level of income (this is called SGA, or substantial gainful activity: in 2007, SGA equated to be $900.00 gross income per month) for at least twelve months.
In essence, when you file for disability benefits based on a mental condition, the process is exactly the same as if you had filed for disability on the basis of a physical problem (though, in almost every case, a person will usually apply for benefits on the basis of several conditions, often a mix of physical and mental disabilities).
Though most individuals are approved for benefits via a medical vocational allowance, the social security administration's impairment listing manual, or blue blook includes "listing criteria" (the criteria by which an individual may be approved for benefits) for a number of mental impairment categories, including:
1. Organic mental disorders (listing 12.02 which may be applied to OBS, or organic brain syndrome, and which may also be applied to TBI, or traumatic brain injury, when applicable).
2. Schizophrenic, paranoid, and other psychotic disorders (listing 12.03).
3. Affective disorders (listing 12.04, and this includes depression, dysthymia, and manic-depression a.k.a. bipolar disorder).
4. Mental retardation (listing 12.05)
5. Anxiety related disorders (listing 12.06, and this includes anxiety disorder, panic attacks, agoraphobia).
6. Somatoform disorders (12.07 - think "psychosomatic").
7. Personality disorders (listing 12.08 - borderline personality disorders).
8. Autism and other pervasive developmental disorders (listing 12.10).
For each of these mental impairment categories, providing sufficient medical record documentation will, of course, be vital. And since the social security administration, via the disability examiner handling the claim, will be responsible for gathering a claimant's medical records at the initial claim level, it is likewise vital that an individual filing for social security disability or SSI disability benefits should indicate all known sources of treatment on the SSA-3368 (the disability application form), including names of treating physicians, dates of treatment, as well as names and addresses of facilities that have provided mental treatment.
And as with physical impairments, it may be helpful to obtain a concise and direct statement from one's treating physician which specifically indicates functional restrictions and the level of impairment that exists. In some cases, this may be fairly easy to obtain since a number of psychiatrists will also be of the mind to choose to provide a summary of their treatment notes versus releasing the actual notes (many doctors do this and it may, in some cases, be for the purpose of providing "clarity" when the actual progress notes are somewhat "hazy").
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