For those suffering from mental impairments, it's important to know that the Social Security Administration (SSA) covers not just physical issues but mental issues as well. If you are suffering from a mental disorder, from personality impairments to mood disorders, the SSA recognizes the way those issues affect your ability to work at your job. You already know how hard it is to function while suffering from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and other mental problems and now you can be paid a monthly benefit when you are unable to work. No matter what your affliction, whether it be physical or mental, getting approved for benefits will be challenging. Read on to find out about some unique challenges you might face on the road toward approval.
Showing Proof of Your Impairment
Unlike physical impairments, there might be no hard evidence of your mental disorder. To prove you have heart disease, diagnostic test results are required. While the diagnostic proof for a mental disorder might be less important, there are still qualifying criteria that must be met when it comes to showing proof of your disorder. You must be seen by a medical doctor or a mental health specialist before you apply for benefits. Part of the application process is to show that you have sought treatment for your issue. Alongside that, you should continue to be treated from here on. Even after you have been approved for benefits, the SSA will continuously monitor you. Be prepared for the SSA to request notes from your treating specialist. Lacking clear diagnostic results, the SSA may request correspondence from your therapist, proof of medication use, and more. You must show that you have tried to deal with your mental issue and taken the steps to address it using not just medication but counseling and other recognized therapeutic practices.
Proving Your Inability to Work
Once you convince the SSA that you are suffering from a mental disability, it's time to address the way the disorder directly affects your work. To help you visualize how the disability determination services arm of the SSA evaluates claims, taking the following actions can help you be prepared to provide the proof you need.
1. Take a look at an official job description of your most recent job. Often jobs and the expected tasks can be located by accessing the Occupational Outlook Handbook (available in the reference section of your local library or online). Here you can find a list of common skills and tasks needed for the job.
2. Using the manual, your job description, and your recollections, make a list of tasks.
3. Keeping those tasks in mind, rate your ability to continue doing those tasks given your disability.
The above exercise will prove to be invaluable both when you apply and later on. Getting denied is not uncommon, but don't give up. Speak to a Social Security disability representative about helping you with your appeal.