Can you File for SSI/SSDI for Depression, Anxiety, or PTSD?

Older man holding his head

For those with depression, anxiety, or PTSD, seeking Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. Symptoms like sleep disruption, low energy, and suicidal thoughts make life extremely difficult. Coupling that with an inability to work because of your depressive symptoms makes your situation more difficult, every day.

Dealing with your anxiety and depression and maintaining regular work can be difficult. You may lose your job because of missing work due to your mental illness and have a hard time finding a new position to replace it.

Asking for help is never easy, but if you’re in a position where you can’t work any longer due to PTSD, anxiety, or depression, it may be the right time in your life to seek the assistance of a disability lawyer who can advise you of your option to file a claim for federal disability.

An often intimidating web of procedures, paperwork, doctor’s visits, and phone calls is overwhelming even to those without depression. Finding the right legal partner from the beginning can make the difference between obtaining the benefits you deserve and being denied SSDI or SSI.

What Mental Health Disabilities are Covered by SSDI or SSI?

According to the SSA, Mental disorders covered by SSI and SSDI are:

  • neurocognitive disorders
  • schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders
  • depressive, bipolar, and related disorders
  • intellectual disorder
  • anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • somatic symptoms and related disorders
  • personality and impulse-control disorder
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • neurodevelopmental disorders
  • eating disorders
  • trauma and stressor-related disorders

There are two ways to qualify for SSI and SSDI, whether your disability is physical or mental. When applying for SSDI and SSI benefits, both your physical and mental health issues will be considered by the SSA in deciding your ability to work.

A Disability Attorney Can Help

An attorney that specializes in the practice area of disability is one focused specifically on helping people like you win their disability claims. Both SSDI and SSI have high chances of being denied the first time you apply. This is often because of errors or omissions, so it’s important that your claim is complete and error-free.

The lawyers at Affleck & Gordon specialize in disability in Georgia and offer free consultations regarding your claim. For all disability cases, Affleck & Gordon only get paid if they win your case.

What are the Steps to Filing a Disability Claim for Mental Health Reasons?

First, determine if you are eligible. SSDI is for workers who have contributed to the SSA throughout the life of their careers. Your benefits will be determined by how long you worked and how much you contributed. SSI is a little different. You can qualify for SSI if you are over the age of 65, are legally blind, or are permanently disabled. Another qualifying category for SSI is if you have extremely limited income and resources.Disabled–as defined by the SSA, means that you are unable to do any sustainable gainful activity.

Once you’ve determined your eligibility, you can file online, in person, or by phone. The SSA provides Disability Starter Kits for people to help you get your paperwork right the first time you file. It’s important to take advantage of the resources available because this makes it more likely for your claim to be approved.

After you file your claim, it may take up to 18 months or more for your claim to be approved. Often, first claims are met with denial.

Reasons Mental Health Claims May be Denied

Often, mental health records are incomplete. This may be because of inconsistencies in care, physician changes, or something as simple and often overlooked as poor patient notes from your physician.

If you’ve received counseling but have never been under a physician’s care for mental health conditions, the SSA may deem that there is not enough evidence to support your claim. With that said, it’s important to establish a record of care for your mental health conditions so that you can show a pattern of treatment and medications for your condition. Proper diagnoses are also imperative to receiving disability.

If you have a history of refusing medication or not filling prescriptions for your mental health condition, this may also complicate your approval for benefits, even if your reason for not taking medications is that you couldn’t afford them. The SSA wants evidence that you are an active participant in your own health and wellness, and see a lapse in medication as evidence, unfortunately, that you’re not.

Another reason you may be denied disability for mental health conditions is that you haven’t experienced your symptoms for long enough to qualify. The SSA requires one year of duration for symptoms, and this is the case for both mental illnesses, like depression or anxiety, as well as for physical illnesses, like a bad back or even a cancer diagnosis.

Next Steps

If you’ve been denied, all hope is not lost. For many claimants, this is when the real work begins. Gathering the right medical documentation, getting treatment from a physician who is invested in your wellbeing, and taking proper medication can all help establish a pattern that will improve the chances that you may win your appeal. Having a disability attorney at this stage is imperative to the success of your claim. Disability lawyers know the ins-and-outs of the law and can make sure that your appeal claim is complete and error free.

Obtaining benefits means the difference between financial hardship due to your disability and condition and having the financial support that you need to continue to take care of your mental health needs. You can learn more about SSDI and SSI here. These two programs are designed to help people with disabilities, and they can help you, too.

If your Supplemental Security Income claim has been denied, or you’re thinking about filing and don’t know where to start, Affleck and Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for over 40 years. Sign up for afree case evaluation here, or call us (404) 990-3945.

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