Every year, countless individuals dealing with a mental disorder find that it becomes difficult or impossible to work. A mental condition can cause severe anguish, difficulty concentrating, and difficulty working with others. Ultimately, it can become a disability that makes steady employment impossible.
John Foy & Associates can help you. We have more than 20 years of experience working with the Atlanta social security disability lawyer and assisting clients in getting their claims approved. Let us give you a free consultation to discuss your SSDI application and help you decide your next steps. Call John Foy & Associates and get your free consultation today.
Mental Illnesses that Count for SSDI Benefits
Virtually any mental illness can qualify if it causes severe enough symptoms. The main criterion the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses to evaluate a disability is whether it prevents you from working regularly. To assist in this, they refer to the Listing of Impairments, a document listing every health condition known to cause disability.
This list has an entire chapter, Section 12, dedicated to mental disorders. Some of the mental disorders listed in this section include:
- Bipolar syndrome (aka “manic depressive disorder”)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder/PTSD
- Anxiety disorders
- Personality disorders
These are just a handful of the many conditions listed or described in the List of Impairments. But your condition does not need to be listed explicitly to qualify. Instead, it simply makes the process easier. What matters most with any condition is having a formal diagnosis and having evidence of how it limits your ability to work.
Get the strong arm
Provide Information for Your Diagnosis to the SSA
The SSA has always had a hard time evaluating claims related to mental disorders. This is partly because there are so many different disorders and so many ways that they can manifest, making it difficult to evaluate whether an individual’s condition counts as a disability or not.
There has also been a long history of skepticism about any disability that doesn’t involve a physical injury or disease. Thankfully, SSA guidelines now officially recognize many mental disorders, and it is easier to get them approved. Still, you need to “prove” the condition with paperwork supporting your diagnosis.
This should include:
- A formal diagnosis
- Medical history showing that other possible causes of your symptoms have been ruled out
- Records or a doctor’s opinion showing that you have followed all recommended treatments
Many SSDI applicants think that the diagnosis alone is enough. Unfortunately, it seldom is. The more thoroughly you can support your claim, the better.
Getting Approval from the SSA Is Difficult
Like all disabilities, those dealing with a severe mental illness are supposed to get benefits from SSDI. But most Atlanta SSDI claims for mental illnesses are denied, often for frivolous reasons.
Many Atlanta mental illness attorneys will not take on these kinds of claims because they are challenging to get approved. But we actively seek out these claims and gladly take them on because we want to help people suffering from mental illness.
How to Prove Your Mental Illness Prevents You From Working
Once you have proved that you have a valid mental illness, the SSA will want to evaluate how severely it limits your ability to work. This is the other key area where many applicants go wrong. The SSA will not take you at your word when you say you cannot work.
They will want hard evidence from multiple sources where possible in order to qualify for disability benefits. Some of the documentation you can give them includes:
- Medical records showing severe symptoms
- Documentation of being hospitalized more than once in the past year.
- A doctor’s written opinion clearly stating the limits you face, either physically or mentally, in carrying out basic work tasks.
- Statements from friends and family that give specific details of your limitations. For example, “Cannot seem to concentrate for more than two minutes at a time” is better than “can’t concentrate very well.”
- A medical assessment known as a “functional capacity” test.
The functional capacity assessment is the most convincing piece of evidence you can submit. It consists of being formally tested for limitations to your physical abilities such as standing, walking, using your hands, and mental skills like concentrating, remembering, interacting with others.
Few physicians and even fewer psychologists offer these assessments regularly, but they are standard in SSDI applications. Therefore, we can help you see a specialist who can properly assess your application.
Why Applicants Get Rejected
Many applicants get rejected by the SSA due to:
- Providing insufficient information or evidence related to your mental illness.
- Incomplete or improperly filled out applications.
- A history of too many prior rejections or appeals.
- An addiction to drugs or alcohol.
- An inability to take proactive measures to take care of your physical and mental wellbeing.
- The SSA doesn’t consider your mental illness severe or debilitating enough for benefits.
Regardless of why you got rejected, don’t throw in the towel just yet. There are still many options available to you under the law to help you get your rejection overturned. While it won’t be quick or easy, you should always fight to ensure that you get the benefits you deserve.
What to Do If You Get Turned Down for SSDI Benefits
When you first submit your application, it will get evaluated by staff at the SSA. Unfortunately, many applications get turned down at this point, especially for mental illness claims. That doesn’t mean you don’t qualify. It’s, unfortunately, just how the system works.
While we cannot force the SSA to move faster, we can help you submit the strongest application possible. We can also help you appeal your case if you have already been denied. When we appeal your application, it can eventually go before a judge. We find that judges tend to look at the evidence much more closely than the SSA does.
Documentation Is King
We tend to see a much higher success rate with judges. But it’s important to make sure you have all the paperwork to back up your claim. If you have applied for SSDI and been denied before, there are several things we can do to help you get approved the second time around:
- Develop your paperwork. We know what questions to ask your healthcare providers to get the information the SSA wants. We can also go through your entire medical history and identify the most crucial evidence to include, as well as take statements from friends and family.
- Document your treatment. If you have not followed treatment recommended by your doctor, such as medication, the SSA will assume this is why you are not well enough to work. We can document that you have followed treatment recommendations or help you see a doctor who will give you more appropriate treatment in the first place.
- Include health conditions. We often see clients with multiple conditions, such as depression with diabetes or PTSD with a physical injury. The SSA must consider the cumulative effect of all of your health conditions, not just your mental disorder.
Don’t give up hope on receiving your benefits. Remember, the process is difficult and challenging for almost everyone. Social Security isn’t a privilege or a handout. You paid into this system your entire working career. So it’s only fair that you get the benefits when you need them the most.
You Can Trust Our Mental Illness Attorneys in Atlanta to Fight for You
With decades of experience on our side, we’ve helped hundreds of clients get their SSDI benefits. So whether you need help filing your application or you need to take your case to court, our Atlanta mental illness lawyers are here to help.
Even though you can technically fight for your benefits independently, if you have no legal experience or in-depth knowledge of the SSA’s rules and regulations, you will quickly find yourself in an uphill battle. While you prioritize your health, our lawyers will be there for you every step of the way. Our results show our dedication to our clients and our drive to win for them.
Talk to a Mental Illness Lawyer in Atlanta for Free
SSDI is not a perfect system, but its benefits can make a profound difference for individuals who live with mental disorders. Let us help you with your application. Our Atlanta mental illness lawyers here at John Foy & Associates can provide you with a free consultation. Call us or fill out the form to your right to schedule an appointment.