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How some mental conditions affect SSI and SSD benefit eligibility

In California and the rest of the U.S., people with disabling mental conditions may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The Social Security Administration has a disability guidebook listing all the severity requirements that applicants must satisfy in order to receive benefits. Anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, PTSD, ADD, and learning disorders are among the mental impairments listed.

Among the requirements of the SSA is objective medical evidence of the condition. Laying out a history of treatments under a qualified mental health professional, preferably a treating physician, can be helpful. Otherwise, the applicant may have to undergo a consultative examination with a health professional hired by the SSA. It's a quick exam conducted by a stranger who hardly knows the patient's medical history; this is why a CE rarely results in the applicant being approved.

While a medication history will work in the applicant's favor, many do not take medication. Experts understand that some conditions, such as mental retardation and organic brain disorders, have no existing medication. However, non-compliance with treatments for depression, bipolar disorder, and other conditions will make the disability agency think that the condition is not debilitating or severe; thus, they will deny the applicant any benefits. How the condition is seen varies from agency to agency.

Individuals considering applying for Social Security Disability may benefit from consulting with an attorney who has experience in disability-related issues. A lawyer may be able to determine if the client meets the disability criteria, bring together medical records and other important paperwork, and help with the application process. A lawyer may even mount an appeal if benefits are denied.

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