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A deteriorating mental condition can be disabling

The Social Security Disability list of impairments sets forth medical conditions that, if met by a disability claimant, generally qualify that person for disability benefits. Categorized by bodily system or function, the list includes mental disorders among the disabling conditions. One problem is that most California claimants suffer from conditions that do not precisely match up with the list's requirements. If that is the case, medical records must be evaluated to gain more specific information about the claimant's condition.

Medical records can reveal signs of the claimant's inability to engage in the functions of daily life, which may be indicative of an inability to engage in work functions. The claim evaluators are looking for such issues as reduced ability to concentrate and learn, follow or retain instructions. SSD experts point out evaluators are particularly interested in what is called evidence of episodes of decompensation. This is defined as a deterioration of some function that previously was operating at an adequate level.

Some claimants who do not exhibit significant episodes of decompensation may still be deemed disabled. The Social Security Administration will consider all evidence of limitations that indicate impairment, and many people have more than one or multiple conditions. There may be a combination of physical and mental impairments that in total render that individual disabled.

The SSD process can be a long and complicated endeavor. More than 50 percent of first-time applicants are refused benefits each year. The SSA provides multiple levels of appeals, which a claimant may wish to pursue. Individuals who seek a successful finding of disability might be better prepared if their case is represented by an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer.

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