You’ve suffered from extreme anxiety and depression ever since high school. You’ve been in therapy since you turned 21, and have been medicated as well. However, over the past few months, you’ve found it increasingly difficult to get out of bed in the morning to go to work. Instead, you just sit with the covers pulled over your head and try not to hyperventilate while you think about all the work you have to do. When you finally manage to crawl out, get dressed, and drive to work, you have to take another 15 minutes in the parking lot to convince yourself to walk in. 

You’ve been in trouble several times for being late, and your boss told you yesterday that if you leave early one more time because of a panic attack, he’s going to have to let you go. You’ve talked to your therapist, and with her incentive you filed for Social Security disability. However, you got a letter in the mail this morning stating that your claim was denied.

You are back in bed, covers over your head, trying not to think about the time.

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock.

What are you going to do? If you call in, you’re fired. If you leave early, you’re fired. If you leave your bed, you may pass out. Why was your claim denied? You obviously can’t function enough to go to work, so why the letter? Isn’t your anxiety enough to grant disability? How does the Social Security Administration (SSA) classify mental disorders and what must you do to get it approved?

SSA Classifications for Determining the Validity of Mental Disorder Disability Claims

Every year nearly 20 percent of the United States population suffers from a mental disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). This means that over 60-million people are currently attempting to live, work, and survive with degenerative mental problems—problems that range from anxiety and depression, to bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

Unfortunately, with the rise of mental disorder diagnoses, and the added stress of the economy, employment and the mental ability to work has been a great concern for many of these sufferers. In addition, the NAMI estimates that most disorders begin to manifest during a person’s teenage years, or right when they begin to enter the job market.

The SSA recognizes the fact that certain mental issues are severe enough to warrant the need for Social Security disability. However, in order to evaluate what disorders are debilitating and severe enough to limit working ability, the SSA developed a specific mental disorder classification system. This system arranges claimants’ mental issues into nine separate diagnostic categories, to help the disability approval panel, determine if (and how much) benefits are needed per claim.

These nine categories include:  

  • Organic mental disorders – Dysfunction of the brain that leads to psychological or behavioral abnormalities.
  • Schizophrenic, paranoid, and other psychotic disorders – Psychological deterioration that produces episodes where you lose contact with reality.
  • Affective disorders – Mood disturbances accompanied by full or partial manic or depressive episodes.
  • Intellectual disability – The inability to learn or retain information and having sub-average intelligence.
  • Anxiety-related disorders – The inability to handle stress, where you physically lose control of function and control of your life. This disorder can also cause painful hives, rashes, shaking, and the inability to move.
  • Somatoform disorders – Disorder that causes you to experience physical symptoms without physical or organic cause. For example, soldiers may experience temporary blindness in battle due to the stress of the situation, even though nothing is physically wrong with their eyes.
  • Personality disorders – Complete, sudden, or long-term changes in personality and thought.
  • Substance addiction disorders – Behavioral or physical changes associated with the regular use of substances that affect the central nervous system such as medications, drugs, and herbs.
  • Autistic and other pervasive developmental disorders – Disorders that limit the development of social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication skills, and imaginative activity.

Limiting Stress to Help Manage Your Disorder

If you suffer from one of the above ailments, and are unable to consistently and adequately perform your work duties, you shouldn’t be forced to fight the stress in order to survive. However, without proper documentation of you ailment and about how it affects your work, your claim will most likely be denied.

Fortunately, with the help of an experienced disability lawyer, you can not only resubmit your claim, but have the added bonus of eliminating your own stress while receiving the peace of mind that comes with knowing your claim is in good hands. Contact us today for a free consultation and see how we can help you lower your work anxiety while increasing your ability to manage your disorder. We’re waiting for your call!

Did you find this article interesting and helpful? Let us know by liking us on Facebook, or sharing this page with your friends, family, and coworkers.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 888.904.6847 to schedule your free consultation.


John L. Keefe
Connect with me
Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer