SSDI for Mental Illness? How to Document Your Functional Limitations and Support Your Case
If you are applying for SSDI for a mental illness, a diagnosis of a mental condition is simply not enough to support your claim. You must also show that the mental illness creates functional limitations that make it difficult for you to work. You will need to have medical documentation showing that your mental condition prevents you from holding a job for pay.
You will need:
- Medical documentation of your mental disability including your diagnosis, treatment plan, medications, and response to medications.
- Documentation of your functional limitations and how these limitations affect your ability to work for pay.
- Documentation showing that your disability and the resulting functional limitations have lasted or are expected to last at least 12 months.
When determining whether functional limitations exist that qualify you for SSDI, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider the following:
- How does your mental illness affect the activities of daily life? This includes your ability to care for yourself, shop for and prepare food, clean up after yourself, pay your bills, drive a car, or use public transportation independently and appropriately. The SSA will evaluate your ability to do these activities on a consistent, routine basis, without distraction or interruption.
- How does your disability affect your ability to interact with others? Social functioning is an important part of many jobs. The SSA will look at your ability to interact with family, friends, supervisors, customers, coworkers, and strangers in an independent, appropriate, and effective manner. The reviewer will also look for a history of social difficulties, including social isolation, altercations, firings, or fear of strangers, as well as your ability to interact cooperatively and in a group setting.
- Do you have difficulties with concentration, persistence, or pace? In most workplaces, employees are required to maintain concentration, persistence, and pace to complete tasks in a timely manner. The SSA will look for evidence that you have difficulties keeping your attention on the task at hand, sticking to a task, or completing tasks at an appropriate pace. You might be asked to take a test to measure your concentration and your ability to stay on task.
- Have you had episodes of decompensation? Has there been a decline in your ability to perform the activities of daily life, maintain social relationships, or maintain your concentration, persistence, or pace? Have you had repeated episodes in which you have experienced these difficulties?
Are you worried about documenting your mental disability for SSDI? Our Massachusetts disability attorneys can help you with every step of the process, whether you are just starting your application or your claim was denied. To get started, request a copy of SSDI lawyer John Keefe's free book The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability, or contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847 and ask to schedule a free consultation.