How Social Security Handles Mental Illness Claims

For those suffering from mental illness, such as depression or anxiety conditions, finding and maintaining a job can be extremely difficult, leaving those already in a vulnerable position even more exposed to economic hardship and adversity. Those living with mental illness who find it hard to work often apply for Social Security benefits in an effort to support themselves.

However, it can be much harder for mental illness applicants to receive the benefits they need due to the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) often difficult and confusing rule. Keep reading to learn how Social Security handles mental illness claims and how you can get help from a social security disability lawyer.

Disability Benefits Types and Requirements

When seeking Social Security benefits due to a mental illness, you will be required to show that your condition prevented you from working in a considerable way. Social Security uses a metric known as Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) to determine how severely your mental illness impacted your work and earning ability. As of 2016, SGA was determined as earning $1,130 a month. If your mental illness caused you to earn under the SGA level, or if you haven’t been able to work at all, then you may be eligible to receive benefits.

It is also important to note that there are two types of Social Security benefits you can pursue: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Those seeking SSI usually have impairments so severe that they have been unable to acquire any work history, while SSDI recipients usually have some work history and have paid Social Security taxes before.

Determining Mental Illness

If you meet the SGA requirement, then you are well on your way to receiving benefits. It is at this point that the SSA will examine your mental illness to determine your eligibility. The SSA maintains a list of common mental illnesses that it will reference while examining your case. Some of the ailments that may qualify you for benefits include:

  • Progressive conditions
  • Personality disorders
  • Certain substance abuse disorders
  • Mental disabilities, such as autism

It’s not enough that you have been diagnosed with one of these conditions; they must also substantially interfere with your life, particularly your ability to work. Because the requirements for each condition are complicated, it’s important to consult with a physician to help determine where the extent of your condition is eligible.

What if You Don’t Qualify?

If you have a condition that doesn’t appear on the list, it is still possible to receive benefits. The SSA will examine your condition and its symptoms to determine your mental residual functional capacity (MRFC). Your MRFC will indicate exactly how capable you are of withstanding the mental and physical rigors of a regular job.

To prove your MRFC level, you will need to provide the SSA with medical records that speak to your condition, as well as opinions from a psychologist or psychiatrist who has examined you. If the SSA determines you don’t have the functionality necessary to work, you will be approved to receive benefits.

Hire a Social Security Disability Lawyer to Help

Unfortunately, even if you suffer from a legitimate mental illness that affects your life, it is still possible that the SSA denies your application and blocks your access to the benefits you so desperately need. If your application has been denied, you need to consult a social security disability lawyer from the Disparti Law Group. By partnering with the Disparti Law Group, you’ll be working with a legal team that has the knowledge and experience necessary to handle your Social Security case. Contact us today!