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Seeking Social Security Disability When Suffering From Mental Illness

In Orange County, many people struggle with a debilitating mental illness that prevents them from holding down a job or even walking outside their door at times. Many of these people are not financially secure, but there is hope for them in the form of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). To prove that a person is disabled, however, there are a number of items that the person needs to provide to the government agency.

Mental Illness: A Common Disability

The National Institute of Mental Health states that mental illness is the leader in disability causes. Six percent of Americans struggle with a serious mental illness, and every year more than 26 percent of the population deals with a mental illness that can be diagnosed. These mental illnesses include:

  • Major depressive disorder – this is the number one disabling mental illness and afflicts millions of people.
  • Schizophrenia
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Autism

Eating disorders, social disorders, personality disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder also affect a significant number of people every year. While many of these mental illnesses can be successfully treated and managed with medication and therapy, some victims still face a daily struggle.

Harder to prove than physical disability

Mental illness is a serious issue for millions of Americans, but it can be more difficult to prove when applying for Social Security Disability benefits. For example, perhaps a person has been able to hold down a job, even though they have a panic disorder. However, the panic disorder has increased to the point where they can no longer handle being in a workplace environment.

Unlike a physical ailment, which can easily be confirmed through medical tests and the appearance of a person, mental illness involves a series of evaluations that look at social functioning, activities of daily living and concentration, among others.

Strengthening a petition

Understanding how mental illness affects a person and his or her work, home and social environments is the first step in coping and treating the issues; but proper documentation is extremely important when applying for disability benefits. The correct paperwork can effectively back up a petition and provide credibility to the claimant. This can include records from hospitalization stays, treatments used for the disorder, laboratory results (if applicable) and statements from mental health professionals.

It is also a good idea to meet with an experienced disability advocate who has handled mental health disability for Social Security claims to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.