Securing Social Security disability benefits can be a long, arduous process for many. The process starts with an initial application. If you receive approval for your SSD benefits at that time, consider yourself very lucky, as only about a third of all initial applicants are approved. There are four levels of appeal following the initial application, including a reconsideration of your initial application—perhaps with additional information—a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, a hearing before the Appeals Council, and a federal appeal.
While it can be difficult to obtain SS disability benefits based on a physical limitation, it can be even more challenging to obtain disability benefits based on a mental limitation. Having an experienced Social Security disability attorney from the Carmichael Law Group can make a significant difference in the outcome of your claim. We offer a free, comprehensive consultation and when we take your case you pay us nothing unless we secure benefits on your behalf. The Carmichael Law Group serves clients nationwide, so we can assist you with your claim no matter where you live. With more than 300 positive Google reviews, you can clearly see how we can help you with your disability claim.
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What Are Mental Limitations in Disability Claims?
Perhaps you’ve encountered the term “functional limitations” as you work toward obtaining Social Security disability benefits. A functional limitation is an impairment or a restriction that prevents you from completing a normal work task. Your ability to work and make a living is determined in part by your functional limitations, which can be physical, mental, or environmental. Physical limitations are more easily spotted—perhaps you have difficulty sitting, standing, bending over, or picking up things that weigh more than a few pounds—although some physical limitations like physical pain, hearing issues, or vision issues are not so easy to see.
If you have asthma and cannot work in an environment that has significant dust or chemicals, this would be an environmental limitation. If your mental limitation in disability claims prevents you from working at your current job, and it is determined you cannot be trained for a different type of job, the SSA must pay you disability benefits. Your age, education, type of work, and length of time at your job will determine whether the SSA will believe you can train for a different type of work.
Mental and psychological disabilities can potentially qualify you for disability benefits from the SSA. Perhaps you have severe depression, an anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, or another type of mental or psychological disability that prevents you from maintaining gainful employment. When the SSA conducts a detailed review of your medical records, they will be trying to match your medical records to a disability listing in the SSA book of medical conditions, sometimes known as the “Blue Book.”
To prove your mental disability, you will need medical documentation, records, and notes from any physicians you have seen that show your mental limitations make it difficult or impossible for you to work. The more medical evidence you have, the easier it will be for you to obtain disability benefits.
What Are the Mental Limitations that Are Likely to Be Considered in Your Disability Claim?
Mental limitations in disability claims are outlined in Section 12.00, which also discusses the severity level requirements and specific medical evidence required to support your mental limitations claim. The mental illnesses in this section include:
- 12.06—Anxiety-related disorders like severe phobias, panic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other conditions related to anxiety. Your anxiety disorder must be characterized by three or more of the following: sleep disturbances, muscle tension, irritability, difficulty concentrating, easily fatigued, and restlessness.
- 12.04—Affective disorders, such as bipolar disorder and other depressive disorders are characterized by five or more of the following: feelings of guilt or worthlessness, sleep disturbances, observable psychomotor agitation, decreased energy, appetite disturbances which cause changes in weight, diminished interest in virtually all activities, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, or thoughts of death or suicide. If you have bipolar disorder, you must have three or more of the following symptoms: a “flight” of ideas, pressured speech, extreme distractibility, a decreased need for sleep, inflated self-esteem, involvement in activities with a high probability of painful consequences, and an increase in psychomotor agitation or goal-directed activities.
- 12.08—Personality and impulse-control disorders that may include severe, clinical depression
There are many more recognized mental limitations in disability claims; your SS disability attorney from Carmichael Law Group can help you build a solid case for benefits based on your specific mental disability.
You will require extensive medical treatment records to qualify for mental limitations in disability claims. These records may include, but are not limited to:
- Documented medications, therapies, and other management methods used, along with the effect these methods had on you and your disability.
- Brain scans or other evidence of physical abnormalities that document your case and support your symptoms.
- Information on your diagnosis, preferably from a psychologist or psychiatrist
- The documented effects of your mental disability symptoms on your ability to work and perform everyday activities.
- Documented episodes of increased levels of symptoms, along with periods of decompensation.
Your everyday activities of daily living may include the ability to dress yourself, prepare your own meals, and interact with others. If your mental limitations make it difficult or impossible for you to function outside your home you have a strong chance of being granted disability benefits. If your mental limitations do not precisely meet the SSA listings, it can be more challenging to secure approval. If you do not have significant supporting documentation from your doctors, it may also be difficult to secure benefits. It can be extremely beneficial for you to have a strong SS disability legal advocate from the Carmichael Law Group to help you understand the requirements and ensure your medical records obtain the details necessary to ensure your claim is accurately evaluated.
How Can You Describe Your Mental Limitations in Disability Claims to Improve Your Chances of Success?
Along with medical documentation that shows your mental disability makes it difficult or impossible for you to work full-time, you may also need to tell an Administrative Law Judge how your mental limitations affect you. If you are able to express how your mental disability symptoms prevent you from working or living a normal life in detail, this will go a long way, however many people with a mental illness are not able to fully document their symptoms.
Those closest to you may need to describe your behavior. Family members, friends, social workers, or any other key figures in your who can describe your mental disability and how it affects your ability to interact socially, obtain sufficient employment, and perform routine functions can be crucial. Medical specialists may be called in to explain why you are unable to work because of your mental disability. Social Security will evaluate four areas of your life—daily living, social interactions, your ability to focus and complete tasks, and your reactions to pressure and stress. This evaluation, along with documentation from your medical professionals, family, friends, and even co-workers, will determine whether you are approved for SS disability benefits.
Getting the Help You Need for Mental Limitations in Disability Claims
A judge could place a limitation in their RFC findings that preclude all work with respect to your mental disability. As an example, perhaps you experience depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, as well as a specific physical condition. If your mental disability prevents you from focusing or concentrating for the required two-hour periods, this means you would be off-task for 15 percent or more of each workday. Or, suppose you are unable to handle the normal pressures of your work for a third of each workday.
This would definitely result in a finding for disability, so long as your condition can be adequately described and proven. Your mental disability might render you unable to interact and respond appropriately to your supervisor or co-workers. Considering that many jobs have a probationary period, if you were unable to adequately perform your duties for significant times during that probationary period, you would likely be let go. A highly skilled, knowledgeable disability benefits attorney will work hard to help you prove your mental limitations and secure disability benefits.
How the Carmichael Law Group Can Help You Obtain Disability Benefits for Your Mental Limitations
Mental limitations in disability claims are much easier to prove when you have an SS disability advocate like attorney Brian Carmichael to guide you through the process. At Carmichael Law Group, we help clients nationwide obtain the benefits they need and deserve. Client service is high on our list of priorities so you can expect to be treated with dignity and respect as we answer your questions, and help you get your benefits. The sooner we partner with you on your claim, the better able we will be to ensure your success—although we are ready to step in at any point in the process, from the initial application to any level in the appeals process. Contact Carmichael Law Group today.