If you’re applying for Social Security Disability and have a mental illness, you’ll need to prove that your disability prevents you from working in any job, for at least a year. The large majority of disability applicants have their initial applications denied, and those who are applying for disability based on a psychiatric condition may have an even harder time getting their application approved.
Below are 3 common reasons that the Social Security Administration (SSA) may deny your mental illness disability claim:
Lack of a Firm, Specific Diagnosis by a Specialist
The SSA will want to see proof of what specific condition(s) you’ve been diagnosed with. Even if you’ve obtained regular psychiatric treatment, if a psychiatric diagnosis isn’t clearly indicated in your treatment records, this could be reason for denial of your disability claim.
Lacking Treatment History
Before approving your disability claim, the SSA will obtain copies of all of your medical and psychiatric treatment records. They’ll review what treatments you’ve tried to improve your mental illness, and what the outcomes were. They’ll also pay close attention to your specific symptoms and how they affect your ability to work.
If you haven’t received treatment for your mental illness, or have received minimal or inconsistent treatment, the SSA may deny your claim. Objective medical evidence is the most important piece of the puzzle when proving your mental illness disability claim. If you can’t afford the treatment you need, look for free or reduced-cost healthcare providers in your area.
You’re Considered Employable
One common misconception about Social Security disability is that it’s only necessary to prove that you’re unable to do your previous jobs. That’s not true – when you apply for disability, the SSA will evaluate your symptoms to determine whether or not you’re able to do any type of work.
So even if your medical evidence clearly indicates that you’re unable to return to your previous employment due to your mental illness, the SSA may find that you have the mental residual functional capacity to perform another job. This is especially true if you are a younger person, as the SSA will likely consider you trainable to learn a new type of work. If you recently became unemployed (and especially if you’re collecting unemployment) it could also be harder to prove your claim, as the SSA may believe that the reason you stopped working was not due to your disability. This is why it’s important to make sure you have the appropriate medical records and other evidence indicating exactly how you are unable to perform all types of work-related activities, and not just those related to your former type of employment.
Total disability on the basis of a mental disability is very difficult to prove, so obtaining Social Security Disability benefits based on mental illness is notoriously difficult, particularly for younger people.
If you, or a loved one, are disabled due to mental illness and considering applying for SSDI or SSI benefits, be sure that you have the sufficient medical documentation, treatment history, and evidence of impairment to support your disability claim at the application and appeal levels.