Is Mental Illness a Disability?

If you suffer from a mental illness or developmental disorder, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. As is the case with any other disorder, you must prove your eligibility before you can recover benefits. Specifically, you must:

  • Submit a complete and accurate Social Security disability application.
  • Provide medical evidence to support your application.
  • Thoroughly explain why you qualify for Social Security disability benefits pursuant to the Social Security Listing of Impairments or because your condition prevents you from working.

Section 12 of the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments includes the following types of mental health conditions:

  • Section 12.02: Organic Mental Disorders. This includes psychological or behavior abnormalities of the brain.
  • Section 12.03: Schizophrenic, Paranoid, or other Psychotic Disorders.
  • Section 12.04: Affective Disorders.
  • Section 12.05: Intellectual Disabilities.
  • Section 12.06: Anxiety Related Disorders.
  • Section 12.07: Somatoform Disorders.
  • Section 12.08: Personality Disorders.
  • Section 12.09: Substance Addiction Disorders.
  • Section 12.10: Autistic Disorder and Other Persuasive Developmental Disorders.

If you experience any of these conditions, it is important to know what to do next.

The First Step Is to Talk to Your Doctor

You will need medical evidence to support your Social Security disability application. Some conditions may already be documented in your medical record and may be the reason for your office visit. However, your doctor may be unaware of some of your conditions or may be unaware of the effect that the condition is having on your daily life.

Most doctors are so busy that they just concentrate on the stated reason for your visit, such as a rash, a fever, or an infection. It is up to you to bring to the doctor’s attention that you may have additional issues. If you do not explain it to the doctor, the doctor has no way of knowing what you experience on a daily basis.

If you have trouble expressing yourself or do not really know how severe the deficits are because you have not noticed them, then take a friend or family member who has observed the problems and has told you that you need to seek treatment. Let them tell your doctor what changes they have noticed in your behavior and functioning. 

Be Prepared for the Activities of Daily Living Questionnaire

If you decide to apply for Social Security disability benefits, the information provided by your doctor will be important. It will also be important to be prepared to complete your application.

As part of the process of applying for disability benefits, you may have to complete a form often referred to as the activities of daily living (ADL) questionnaire. This form attempts to decipher the extent of the limitations caused by your condition. Here is some additional information about the form and an overview of the types of information you will be asked to provide when you fill it out:

  1. The activities of daily living questionnaire is also known as the Function Report, Social Security Administration form 3373.
  2. This form requires you to describe all of the ways in which the impairment caused by your mental illness impacts your daily life.
  3. The form asks you to answer a variety of questions about many different types of activities. Examples of these types of activities include doing housework, spending time outdoors or outside of your home, socializing, spending money, cooking meals, performing yard work, and shopping.
  4. You will be asked to describe where and with whom you live.
  5. You will be asked to describe your typical routine and schedule.
  6. You will be asked to describe your ability to care for yourself.

Since the purpose of completing the ADL questionnaire is to show that your mental illness makes it difficult to work, it is important to include information about your ability to get along with coworkers, follow the orders of supervisors, and handle stress.

For more tips about getting the Social Security disability benefits you deserve, please contact our board certified attorneys today.

 

Carl M. Weisbrod
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Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law