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Mental Illness Social Security Disability Claims Surge

As unemployment rates continue to rise, and the average length of employment becomes longer and longer, more Americans than ever are claiming Social Security Disability benefits on the basis of mental illness.

Qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits based on mental illness is not easy. It requires demonstrating that your mental illness is significant enough that it makes it impossible for you to continue working in any full time work. Your mental illness must be substantiated by your doctor or mental health care professional. Further, you must be able to show that you continue to be unable to work due to a mental illness even after you have complied with your doctor or mental health care professional’s attempts at treatment.

There is a Rise in All Types of Social Security Disability Claims, but Especially Mental Illness Claims

Prior to our current recession, fewer than 4.5% of Americans of working age were receiving Social Security Disability benefits. Today, that number has soared to over 5.3%.

Similarly, the percentage of disability claims based on mental illness has risen. Before the recession, 33% of all Social Security Disability claims were based on some form of mental illness or other. Today, 45% of Social Security Disability claims are for mental illness.

While the total percentage of the population receiving benefits has risen by nearly a quarter, the percentage of claimants requesting Social Security Disability benefits based on mental illness has risen by about 35%. This is somewhat disproportional to the overall rise in Social Security disability claims.

Why Are the Instances of Mental Illness on the Rise in SSD Claims?

There are several lines of thinking regarding why unprecedented numbers of people are applying for Social Security Disability benefits based on mental illness. One thought is that people are simply trying whatever they can to re-establish income. This appears to be a bit overly-simplistic.

A more plausible explanation is that the stress caused by long periods of unemployment and the frustration experienced by those who have been unable to find employment despite their best efforts. These factors, combined with the economic pressures that affect us all, are believed to be leading to an increase in anxiety disorders and other depression related illnesses.

Mental illnesses and depression don’t automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability benefits. Those who believe they are unable to continue working due to a mental illness will want to contact a Social Security Disability lawyer.

The success of mental illness Social Security disability claims depends largely on your (or your lawyer’s) ability to frame your disabling conditions in such a way that it’s clearly shown how and why they preclude you from continuing to work. When determining eligibility for Social Security Disability based on mental illness, the SSA considers how the mental illness affects all of your day to day activities. They will consider things such as:

  • Does your mental illness affect your ability to sit still and concentrate for extended periods of time?
  • Does your mental illness affect your ability to get along with others, particularly those in authority?
  • Does your mental illness pose a danger to you or others on the jobsite?
  • Have you complied with all attempts at treatment for your mental disorder?

If you or someone you love has a disabling mental illness, you should strongly consider using a Social Security lawyer to help you with your SSD claim. SSD claims often take many months, and can be very stressful. Having an experienced Social Security lawyer to represent you can help ease the tension involved in the application and appeals process.