Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for psychiatric conditions can be a challenging and often overwhelming process.
A lot of people believe that SSDI benefits are only for physical disorders, like heart disease and back injuries, but the Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes the fact that psychiatric illnesses can be just as disabling as physical ones. In fact, beneficiaries with mental disorders accounted for 29% of SSDI’s roles in 2020, with 18% suffering from psychotic disorders, depression or bipolar disorder.
How can you improve the odds of a successful claim?
One of the problems with obtaining SSDI benefits for a psychiatric disorder is showing that the condition meets SSA’s definition of what it means to be “disabled.” You have to show that your condition is severe enough to make it impossible to work and lasting enough to continue for at least a year or longer. To lend support to your claim:
- Get a formal diagnosis. Self-diagnoses may be valid, but not for SSA’s purposes. You need a professional diagnosis so that your condition and its severity are properly documented in your medical records.
- Seek treatment. When a condition can be controlled through medication or treatment, it isn’t considered disabling. Establishing a consistent and ongoing relationship with a mental health professional can help to show that your symptoms are disruptive to your life and that you’d welcome relief – which can also eliminate concerns that you’re malingering.
- Document your symptoms. Keep a journal of your day-to-day struggles, including how your condition and your medications affect your ability to concentrate, take care of your daily needs, remember basic tasks and develop meaningful interpersonal relationships. This can help show the pervasive nature of your disability.
The stigma surrounding mental health issues can make it harder for people to ask for SSDI benefits, and the intricate nature of these conditions makes it critical to approach a claim based on mental health strategically. Seeking experienced legal guidance can help you to present your claim in the best possible light.