Mental disability claims can be some of the most difficult ones to win in terms of Social Security. However, by simply learning how the Social Security Administration (SSA) reviews these claims and what they look for, you can submit a well-prepared and thorough application that maximizes your chances of success. On this blog, our Richmond social security attorneys discuss how these claims are viewed by the SSA and steps you can take to maximize your chances of a successful claim.
Basic Disability Benefit Requirements
In order to qualify for Social Security benefits, you must be able to demonstrate to the SSA that your disability is severe enough to prevent you from being able to sustain full-time employment, and thus you cannot support yourself. The first test is how much income you are capable of bringing in. If you are unable to make beyond what is called the “substantial gainful activity” level, or SGA, for at least one year, you could be eligible. For the year 2017, SGA is defined as $1,170 per month.
Your Work History
Beyond your financial situation, your work history plays a role in the type of benefits you are eligible to receive. If you have an extensive work history, and have paid taxes into the Social Security system, you qualify to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). If you do not have a long work history but limited income and resources, then you could still qualify to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Generally, SSDI benefits amount to more per month than SSI income.
Evaluating Mental Illness Claims
Much like injury claims, the key to a successful Social Security claim lies in the evidence you submit to support it. When your claim is reviewed, the SSA will determine if your condition is on its Listing of Impairments, which is a listing of conditions that are considered to be so severe that they are automatically granted benefits.
Some of these conditions included on the “Mental Disorders” listing include:
- Organic disorders (i.e. Alzheimer’s)
- Personality disorders
- Substance abuse disorders
- Affective disorders
- Somatoform disorders (disorders that cause pain without a known physiological cause)
- Anxiety-related disorders (PTSD or obsessive compulsive disorder)
- Intellectual disability
Each of these conditions, along with several others, have a specific set of requirements that must be met in order to receive benefits. It is strongly advised that you inform your psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist that you are considering seeking Social Security benefits, and they can help provide you with supporting evidence that you can submit with your claim.
If you do not meet a listing for one of the aforementioned conditions, the SSA will determine your mental residual functional capacity, or your MRFC. This is a measurement of the most you can do of the mental aspects of your job on a full-time basis. If you don’t have adequate mental ability to sustainably handle your regular work, your claim will be approved.
It is strongly advised that you retain an attorney who can assist you with assembling your application and obtaining the proper evidence to win your claim the first time. At Harbison & Kavanagh, we take great pride in serving workers all throughout the state of Virginia. We are available to answer your questions, and can provide you with high-quality counsel utilizing our immense depth of knowledge regarding Social Security law.Call Harbison & Kavanagh today at (804) 823-2050 to schedule your free initial consultation and learn more about filing a claim for your mental illness!