Disability benefits are available from Social Security for both physical and mental impairments. Unfortunately, many people suffer terribly from mental illness and have either never been accurately diagnosed or have never sought treatment from a qualified mental healthcare provider. This blog post will tell you what to make clear to your healthcare provider so they can document your experiences, document all your symptoms in detail, and begin to provide you with effective treatment. For mental health impairments, the diagnosis is less weighty than its impact on you and how it affects your functional capacity.
Get Help for Your Mental Health Issues – Disability Benefits Are Available
Mental illness is as legitimate and genuine a disability as any physical injury or illness. To qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD or SSD) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires a person’s case to meet the following definition of “disability”:
A disability is a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that lasts or is expected to last 12 months (or result in death) and prevents the person from engaging in substantial gainful activities.
First, a documented history of treatment with a qualified medical or psychiatric expert is required for any disability application to be considered. Unless there is documentary evidence supporting the existence and severity of the impairment, no disability benefits will be awarded.
Tell the Psychiatrist Everything!
There is no magic phrase or special complaint that will automatically win disability benefits. What is important is that you report everything to your psychiatrist or mental health professional. If you don’t report what you are experiencing, then the details can’t be documented.
There are no merit badges for bravery in the context of applying for disability benefits. Some people feel embarrassed or don’t want to sound like they’re complaining too much when they are asked to explain exactly what they are feeling. They might say, “It’s not that bad,” or, “I don’t mind it.” That kind of soldiering through the pain is counterproductive for any disability application.
If you brought your car to a mechanic to be repaired, would you not tell him about exactly how the car is behaving? You would tell the mechanic everything so they could better understand what is malfunctioning and repair it. Mental health is the same. You must report everything so your psychiatrist can understand what you are feeling and what the best treatment might be.
Interference with Your Daily Life Functions
Mental illness affects people differently and to varying degrees. Some people can continue working and keep their illness well controlled with medication and other forms of support therapy. However, many others are so affected by their illness that they frequently miss work, leave early, or are unable to maintain regular employment due to periods of deep depression, recurring anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings, fatigue, sleep disturbance, and other symptoms that prevent them from keeping employment. Tragically, many can’t find an effective treatment and suffer without relief, month after month, year after year.
To support your disability claim, your psychiatrist or other mental healthcare provider should know about all these exemplary feelings if they are part of your experience:
- depression, strong sustained feelings of sadness
- crying easily or frequently
- disinterest in pleasurable activities
- withdrawal from social interaction
- regular and persistent panic attacks
- anxiety and generalized fearfulness
- strong sense of futility
- inability to concentrate
- suspicion of others, defensiveness
- feeling others are against you or undermining you
- intense moods and mood changes
- quick or intense anger, rage
- elevated sense of grandiosity
- racing thoughts
- thoughts of harming yourself or others
Documented Consisted Treatment for Persistent Impairments
The Social Security Administration (SSA) views mental health impairments seriously, but it also knows that treatment and medication do improve symptoms in many cases. As a result, the issue of most concern to SSA when reviewing a new disability claim based on a mental impairment is how prolonged it has been and how long-term it will remain.
That is why it is so important to obtain professional mental health care as soon as possible and to try to find relief, to improve the quality of your life, and to reduce or eliminate the painful experience of living with uncontrolled mental illness.
Hopefully, everyone will find relief and improve. But if you don’t, you will need a long record of treatment without substantial improvement to more easily be approved for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits.
Contact the Law Office of Daniel Berger, New York’s experienced professional disability lawyer for advice and assistance understanding your SSD and SSI benefit rights. Attorney Berger and his team of trained disability experts will help you prepare and file the best disability application possible.