Limitations caused by mental illness are recognized by the Social Security Administration (“SSA”). That means that f the limitations are severe enough, the Administration will award disability benefits.
Schizophrenia, addiction disorders (alcohol and drug), anxiety, and personality disorders are just a few mental illnesses covered under SSDI. Also included are intellectual and learning disabilities – particularly when younger individuals are being evaluated.
The Social Security Administration’s evaluation for mental and illness claims focuses on medical records, in particular, those that establish whether the applicant has been receiving consistent and ongoing treatment from psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors. The Administration will look very carefully at those records, and may even send the applicant for an independent professional evaluation.
The individual’s ability to adjust to the limitations are also considered. Questions that are likely to come up include:
- Does he/she get along with others?
- Can he/she stay focused on a task?
- Does he/she interact socially with others?
- Can he/she perform basic activities of daily living (ADLs) including caring for personal hygiene?
Additionally, the Administration will want to know about medications and whether they help to neutralize the limitation. They will also consider whether the claimant is or isn’t following their doctor’s orders and suggestions.
If the decision process goes as far as a hearing, the individual will have to explain how well he/she has or has not adjusted to their limitations. Any past work and the ability to adjust to that work will be closely scrutinized.
In summary, it comes down to “how bad are the limitations and do they affect the ability to perform even simple work activities?”
As is always the case with social security claims, the claimant, with the assistance of a social security attorney or advocate, has the burden of proving that the disability is significant.