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Mental Disorders & Social Security Disability

Mental Disorders

SSD Mental Disorders

When we hear the word “disability,” most of us think of a physical impairment, like losing a limb or developing a serious disease that makes us unable to perform many basic tasks of work or daily living. However, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are not limited solely to people who have physical disabilities. Many mental disorders are every bit as disabling as physical ones, and SSDI benefits are available for many people whose mental disabilities prevent them from working.

Because mental disorders differ in some important ways from physical ones, the Social Security Administration (SSA) places mental disorders under their own separate category in its publication on Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, also known as the “Blue Book.”

What are the Different Categories of Mental Disabilities?

The SSA groups mental disorders into nine major categories. In each category, a person with a particular diagnosis must meet certain criteria in order to be eligible for SSDI benefits. The nine major categories of mental disorders recognized by the SSA include:

  • Organic mental disorders;
  • Schizophrenic, paranoid, and other psychotic disorders;
  • Affective disorders (includes mood disorders like severe mania or depression);
  • Mental retardation;
  • Anxiety-related disorders;
  • Somatoform disorders (mental disorders that trigger physical symptoms, either consciously or unconsciously);
  • Personality disorders;
  • Substance addiction disorders; and
  • Autism and other pervasive developmental disorders.

Like other types of disabilities, a mental condition only qualifies for support under SSDI if it prevents the patient from working and is expected to last at least one year and/or to result in the patient’s death.

How are Mental Disorders Evaluated?

When determining whether a person with a mental disorder qualifies for Social Security disability benefits, the SSA looks at the person’s medical records and other information about the condition(s) the person has been diagnosed with. In particular, the SSA is interested in “symptoms,” “signs,” and test findings:

  • Symptoms include the experiences the person reports him- or herself, like moods, intrusive thoughts, inability to think or communicate clearly, or other conditions depending on the particular disorder.
  • Signs include conditions observed by medical professionals that line up with a diagnosis of a particular mental illness.
  • Test results may be medical, like blood tests or brain scans, or they may be psychological, like results from an intelligence test or a personality inventory.

The SSA is also interested in previous or current treatments a person has received and how well the person has done on them.

Finally, the SSA will want to know how well or poorly the person handles daily living activities, social situations, mental concentration or focus, and periods in which the mental condition “flares up.” The more a mental disorder affects a person’s ability to navigate these four areas of life successfully, the more likely the person is to qualify for disability benefits based on the mental disorder.

Experience and Skills You Can Rely On

Like other serious medical conditions, mental disorders can cause serious impairments in function and even prevent a person from working at all. If you or someone you care about is facing a disabling mental disorder, please don’t hesitate to contact the experienced Los Angeles SSD benefits attorneys at the Kenton Koszdin Law Office. Filing for Los Angeles disability benefits is often a complex process and having a lawyer on your side during applying or appeals can make a major difference. Your initial consultation is free and confidential. Call (800) 438-7734 today!

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