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. Like all disabilities, those dealing with a severe mental illness are supposed to be able to get benefits from Social Security Disability (SSDI). But the majority of Atlanta SSDI claims for mental illnesses are denied, often for frivolous reasons. If you need SSDI for your mental illness, don’t face the Social Security system alone. Talk to an Atlanta SSDI lawyer today.
John Foy & Associates can help you. We have more than 20 years of experience working with the SSDI system and helping clients get their claims approved. Many lawyers will not take on mental illness claims because they are so difficult 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. We have had success getting claims approved for a wide variety of mental illnesses. Let us give you a free consultation to discuss your SSDI application and help you decide your next steps. Call John Foy & Associates at 404-400-4000 and get your free consultation today.
Which mental illnesses count as disabilities for SSDI in Atlanta?
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 on a regular basis. To assist in this, they refer to the Listing of Impairments—a document listing every health condition that’s 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 specifically listed in order to qualify. 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.
Why does the SSA want so much information about my mental illness diagnosis?
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. But 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. But 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. It never is. The more thoroughly you can support your claim, the better.
How do I prove that my mental illness prevents me 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.
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 (standing, walking, using your hands) and mental abilities (concentrating, remembering, interacting with others). Few physicians and even fewer psychologists offer these assessments on a regular basis, but they are standard in SSDI applications. We can help you see a specialist who can give you a proper assessment for your application.
What if my mental illness SSDI claim is turned down?
When you first submit your application, it will be evaluated by staff at the SSA. Many applications are 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. 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 taking statements from friends and family.
- Document following your treatment. If you have not followed treatment recommended by your doctor, such as medication, the SSA will assume this is the reason 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 other 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.
Talk to an Atlanta Social Security Disability Lawyer for Free
SSDI is not a perfect system. But the benefits it gives can make a profound different for individuals who live with mental disorders. Let us help you with your application. We will give you and your family a free consultation. Often, we can tell at a glance which areas of your application need to be strengthened to get you approved. Call us at 404-400-4000 or fill out the form to your right and get your FREE consultation today.