You may receive disability benefits for either physical or mental medical conditions, but it’s harder to receive benefits for a mental illness than for a physical illness. The symptoms of mental illness are more difficult to diagnose, and the severity of a mental condition is difficult to measure objectively. Social Security disability claims examiners are not doctors, so they may not always understand the limitations that some mental illnesses impose. For instance, some disability examiners do not recognize the cyclical nature of bipolar disorder and manic depression, so they may assume a patient is cured if he or she does not currently display certain symptoms, even when those symptoms are sure to return.
To evaluate a condition, examiners use Social Security’s official listing of impairments, often called the “blue book.” The listings are the medical conditions that Social Security recognizes as inherently disabling; the examiner will determine if an applicant’s symptoms meet the criteria of any specific mental condition in the listings. The mental impairments listed include: schizophrenia, mental retardation, autistic disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders.
Even if your condition is not listed or isn’t as severe as the listing requires, you may qualify for disability benefits. If you have been diagnosed with a mental condition that prevents you from working, and you can demonstrate the condition is likely to last for at least twelve months, you may be still eligible for benefits.
If you are no longer able to work due to any medical condition, whether mental or physical, an experienced Social Security disability attorney may be able to help you win disability benefits. A good disability lawyer will help you with the application forms, medical documents, and interviews and hearings that Social Security requires. If you are applying for disability benefits, or even if you are only wondering if you qualify, speak with an experienced Social Security disability attorney as quickly as possible.