List Your Mental Conditions on a Social Security Disability Application
Many people who file for social security disability (SSD) or file for SSI benefits list only their physical conditions on their applications, and do not include information about any mental conditions or symptoms from which they are suffering, even if they have received past medical treatment for them.
There are probably a variety of reasons why people neglect to mention mental impairments on their applications. For one thing, there’s still a lot of ignorance out there regarding mental disorders, and people are hesitant to tell anyone that they have sought psychiatric help, take antidepressants, etc. In some cases this fear may be justified; employers may indeed worry that a depressed individual will be a poor performer at work, and unfortunately it’s also true that some people may view you differently if they learn you are manic depressive, suffer from panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc.
However, when it comes to filing for SSD or SSI, it is important to list every medical symptom that you can think of on your application. Even if you do not think that your mental condition is severe enough to be disabling, you need to include it in your initial disability application (filed at the social security administration office) so that the disability examiner in your case can get a complete picture of your health before making a decision on your claim.
In fact, many individuals suffering from physical conditions such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia syndrome, chronic back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, etc., also develop depression as a result of dealing with their impairment. In trying to evaluate the severity of such illnesses and the full impact that they have on an individual’s ability to function, disability examiners and judges need to have access to all of the information.
There are cases in which an applicant for disability is unaware that their mental condition has deteriorated until medical tests reveal this; for example, declining IQ levels or memory function as a result of brain injury or organic brain disorder.
If you are diagnosed with a mental disorder after filing for disability, or simply forgot to include the information in your initial disability application, be sure to call the social security office to update your claim and add the pertinent test results or diagnosis to your file.
Remember that all social security disability decisions are based, not on the type of condition from which you suffer, but on the detrimental effect your impairment has on your work performance. Both physical and mental conditions are relevant to the disability decision, and the more information you provide to the disability adjudicators (examiners and administrative law judges) deciding your case, the better your chances of being approved for disability benefits.
If your initial application is denied and you did not provide a history of your mental health the first time around, remember to include it when you file your appeals. And, if you decide not to file an appeal and to wait it out to see how your medical condition develops, be sure to file another application immediately if your symptoms fail to improve.
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