Seeking SSDI benefits for a mental health condition in Chicago can sometimes be challenging. Even when an individual qualifies for mental health benefits, the condition may seem invisible to Social Security Administration (SSA) staff, leading to a denied claim. When there is not enough evidence to make a determination in a Chicago SSDI claim, the SSA could recommend that someone undergoes a mental status examination.

Mental Status Examination Procedures

During a mental status examination, an evaluator considers multiple issues, including the person’s attitude and approach towards the evaluation. First, the evaluator often attempts to determine if the evaluation is a valid exam. Sometimes, individuals exaggerate their symptoms or appear in a manner that is inconsistent with other information in their record. If the person’s record is consistent and they are cooperative with the examiner, the evaluation is more likely to be considered valid. The validity of the evaluation is just one factor, however. Mental status examinations in Chicago involve several other considerations.

Hygiene and Dress

The validity of the evaluation is just one factor, however. The examiner also evaluates the individual’s appearance. Is their hygiene proper? Are they dressed appropriately or are they disheveled or dressed inappropriately for the weather or for their age?


The examiner considers the person’s mood to see if it is consistent with their words. For example, if someone reports being depressed but appears to be in high spirits, the evaluator may consider that an inconsistency. To the contrary, when someone says they are generally okay but appear to be sad, the examiner takes that into account.

Eye Contact and Communication

The evaluator looks at the person’s eye contact. They also evaluate the individual’s communication ability and determine whether they are able to express themselves appropriately. Are they able to find adequate words to express what they are trying to say? Is their body language consistent with their words or do they have a flat affect?


The examiner evaluates the person’s memory. They may give the individual a series of numbers to remember and continue with the evaluation. A few minutes later, they ask the person to repeat the series of numbers.

They may also ask the individual about general information such as the name of the current president, the city they reside in, or the names of three big cities to gauge their overall engagement and knowledge. They look at the person’s concentration to see if they are focused and are able to pay attention. When the evaluator asks a question, does the person constantly asking the evaluator to repeat the question or do they understand and answer the questions to gauge concentration and attention span.

Thought Processes and Perception

The examiner assesses the individual’s thought process and perception. They ask questions to test someone’s judgment and how they perceive different situations. They also look for suicidal or homicidal thoughts and estimate the person’s level of intelligence.

Let a Chicago SSDI Attorney Help with Your Case

If you are having difficulty applying for SSDI benefits or your claim was denied, consider asking an experienced SSDI lawyer for help. Disability benefits for mental health conditions are available, but the SSA may need additional documentation, such as a mental status examination. An attorney could help you gather proper medical records and put together a compelling case.

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