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Guest Post: Social Security Disability With A Mental Health Condition

There are dozens of mental health conditions, and they can affect individuals in different ways. Some can be disabling, and if you have a mental health condition that affects your ability to work, you may qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA has very strict criteria that must be met for a claim to be approved, and the key to a successful claim is providing hard medical evidence and other supporting documentation that confirms your condition and how it limits or restricts your abilities to perform a job and earn a living.

Meeting The Medical Criteria

There are many mental health conditions that could qualify for disability benefits. There are depressive conditions, learning disabilities, psychotic conditions, conditions on the autism spectrum, ADHD, lowered IQ, and intellectual developmental disorder. The SSA uses a medical guide, which is called the Blue Book, which is used to determine if a claimant medically qualifies for disability benefits.

The Blue Book has sections that cover different body systems, and each section has listings for potentially disabling conditions along with the criteria that must be met for a claimant to qualify for benefits. As an example, to qualify per the listing for depression, you must provide evidence that shows you have severe depression, which means you have at least five of these symptoms – appetite disturbance, depressed mood, decreased interest in activities, sleep disturbances, difficulty thinking or concentrating, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, thoughts of death or suicide, and/or slowed physical movements and reactions.

Using A Medical Vocational Allowance

If you are unable to work because of a mental health condition, but you cannot meet the specific criteria of a Blue Book listing, you may still qualify through a medical vocational allowance. This approach takes your age, educational background, work history, transferrable skills, and other details into consideration. Your treating physician, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or general practitioner, should complete a residual functional capacity (RFC) form. This form is very detailed and will indicate what you can and cannot do.

For example, it may indicate that you cannot stay focused, you are unable to keep up pace or finish a task, or you cannot retain information or remember things that are pertinent to your work activities. The RFC will allow the disability examiner to determine what kind of work you are capable of doing – if you can work at all. Your claim can be approved using the RFC with supporting medical documentation.

Other Documentation

To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you must have earned enough credits and paid in sufficient taxes. That means having worked the equivalent of five years full-time out of the last 10 years. You will need to provide a detailed work history. To qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is needs-based, you must meet specific financial criteria involving income and assets. You will need to provide proof of income, property deeds, vehicle titles, bank statements, and so forth.

Applying For Disability Benefits

To start your disability application, you can apply directly on the SSA’s website or call 1-800-772-1213 and speak with an SSA representative.

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Guest post submitted by Eric Minghella,

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