Many people wonder if mental health conditions alone can be disabling according to Social Security rules.
The answer? YES.
Mental health conditions are most certainly disabling in some circumstances! Whether you suffer from Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, or others, you can qualify for benefits. But how do you prove your condition is severe enough? Who do you need to get treatment from to help your case? What documentation is most beneficial in supporting your case?
Proving severity requires that you show how your symptoms affect your ability to do daily tasks, get along with other people, concentrate and focus, respond appropriately to other people in typical work or social settings, manage conflict or criticism, be on time and presentable to work, or follow instructions. Have your symptoms resulted in legal troubles, financial carelessness, loss of relationships, disciplinary action at past jobs, being fired for missing too much work, needing others to come help you take care of your home? These are details that should be reported to your doctor and reported in SSA paperwork during a claim.
What type of doctor(s) you see and treatment you receive for your conditions is also incredibly important. If your doctor has referred you to a psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, the ER or hospital, or to outpatient/inpatient facilities, you should follow through if possible. These specialists and more intensive treatment programs will document what symptoms you are reporting and their own observations of your functioning. Attending these visits regularly is important in showing SSA how your condition is progressing, what medications are working or not, and your good faith efforts to manage symptoms.
Documentation is critical in any kind of disability case. It is no different if your case is based on mental health conditions alone. Whether you only see your primary care for treatment or have been seeing specialists regularly for a long time, making sure they are taking detailed notes during your visits is very important. Sometimes SSA will send these doctors special forms to fill out to better understand how you are limited by your condition(s). Many attorneys use similar forms for the same purpose. These forms are most helpful when you have had a long-standing relationship with a mental health specialist and you feel they are supportive of your disability claim and have taken detailed office visit notes.
Please reach out to an attorney if you have questions or want to know more about the process and how we can help!