Unfortunately, mental illness has a negative stigma in today’s world. Many people suffer in silence, afraid to tell anyone about their struggles. But if you have a mental illness that makes working difficult, it’s important to be aware of your rights as you may be able to file for disability benefits under the Social Security program.
If you think you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits for your mental illness, you’ll need to be aware of a few things. You’ll need to know what conditions are covered, what evidence you need, and why you may need legal representation to help with your case.
What Types of Mental Illnesses Can Be Covered by Social Security Disability in Louisiana?
When people think of mental illness, depression and anxiety come to mind most often. However, a wide range of other conditions can make work difficult. For Social Security purposes, mental illness can be arranged into 11 categories:
- Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders
- Neurocognitive disorders
- Depressive, bipolar, and related disorders
- Intellectual disorder
- Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders
- Somatic symptoms and related disorders
- Personality and impulse-control disorders
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Neurodevelopmental disorders
- Eating disorders
- Trauma- and stressor-related disorders
It’s not quite as simple as having one of these conditions to qualify for Social Security disability, though, as some have further requirements. Autism spectrum disorder, for example, has a requirement that someone have verbal communication defects or repetitive behaviors and a limitation in understanding and applying information.
What Evidence Do You Need to Get a Mental Illness Claim Approved by Social Security Disability?
To qualify for mental illness-related Social Security disability, you have to show that your mental condition is disabling enough to hinder you from engaging in everyday work.
When you apply for Social Security disability, your specific condition will be assessed. If you don’t fall under one of the 11 designations, though, a mental residual functional capacity (MRFC) test will be performed. This test is essentially a determination of what work someone can do despite their impairment. Different areas of physical, mental, and social function are assessed and given a ranking of one of the following:
- None. Someone can function in this area independently.
- Mild. Ability here is slightly limited.
- Moderate. Ability to function is fair.
- Marked. Ability to function is very seriously limited.
- Extreme. Someone can not function in this area independently.
It’s important to note that the Department of Social Security doesn’t necessarily use the same diagnostic criteria as a medical professional, so you may qualify for benefits under a different medical condition than the one you were diagnosed with.
One of the most significant factors in any disability claim, especially those involving mental conditions, is credibility. Judges who oversee these cases are trained to find exaggerated or untruthful claims, and your case will quickly be denied if you’re not being honest.
But what if you’re being honest about your condition, and you just don’t know how to articulate things properly? That’s where a legal professional can help.
How Can a Social Security Disability Attorney Help?
Filing a Social Security disability claim for mental illness in Louisiana can be challenging. Roughly 25% of people who apply for Social Security disability list some form of mental illness as their primary impairment. Almost half of those mental illness claims are denied immediately. If you’re denied, you can appeal and have your case heard in front of a judge. Out of the people who appeal their denial, 75% are eventually approved for benefits.
In short, it helps to be persistent, and it helps to know the law. That’s where Phillip M. Hendry Law can help. Attorney Phillip Hendry has experience specifically in Social Security disability and prioritizes completing all forms promptly—even obtaining medical records if he feels the necessary documentation is lacking. If it helps strengthen your case, he may even recommend specific treatments with physicians and specialists.
Don’t continue struggling. If you feel like you have a mental illness that inhibits your ability to work, contact our office today at (318) 553-5900 to start your free consultation. You can also use our online contact form to set up an appointment.