Disability Claims Involving Mental Illness on Rise

If you have become disabled, and your disability was not related to an on the job accident, filing a claim for Social Social Disability Insurance  (SSDI) is likely your best option.  However, there is a good chance your application will be initially denied since the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) denied the majority of application of applications upon receipt, but this is only the beginning of a long and arduous process.  You can apply for Social Security disability benefits based for a physical illness, mental illness, or a combination of both.

SSDI Claims BostonAccording to a recent news article from VPR News, the number of applications for SSDI benefits due to mental illness is increasing in New England.  This is significant for several reasons.

SSDI Benefits for Claimants with Mental Health Conditions

As our Boston Social Security disability attorneys can explain, it is fairly difficult for a relatively young person to quality for SSDI benefit based upon a physical disability alone so also including a diagnosed mental health condition will increase the chances of success.  This is not to say claimants will be successful in every case, or the application process will not take a year or more, but the best thing a claimant can do is to work with an experienced SSDI lawyer who knows how to present the best possible case the facts and the law will allow.

One reason for the significant increase in the number applicants claiming mental illness when applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits is that more focus is being placed on the awareness of mental illness and the treatment of these mental health concerns. There is also an effort to remove the stigma associated with mental illness.  As we have seen, many applicants who have been diagnosed mental illness are not willing to discuss it even with their attorneys and are hesitant to include in the SSDI application.  We often see this to be more the case with male applicants who tend to associate more of a stigma with admitting that they suffer from mental illness. While there are some more severe mental conditions such as schizophrenia, what we are generally see in these cases is severe depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and perhaps bipolar disorder.

While it is certainly understandable that someone would be hesitant to disclose having a mental illness, this should not stop an applicant from getting the benefits to which they are entitled and the money they need to take care of themselves of their family.  Claimants should also understand that the initial consultation with a Boston Social Security Disability Insurance benefits attorney is not only free, but also fully confidential.  Nothing you say in the consultation with an attorney will be disclosed without your express permission.  Claimants should also know that if they chose to hire an attorney, as they should, there will be no legal fees unless they are successful in obtaining Social Security disability benefits.

Working to Help Those with Mental Health Get Social Security Disability Benefits

Another reason that more applicants are applying for Social Security disability for mental health conditions is because public health workers and advocacy groups are making new efforts to go out into the community and find those who suffer from mental illness who are in need of financial assistance.  They are making the potential applicants aware of Social Security disability programs and even helping them apply for benefits.

In addition to the help being offered to claimants and prospective claimants, there is also a renewed effort to work with employers and help them to be more willing to hire candidates with mental illness.  While an employer cannot discriminate against a prospective employee based upon mental illness, there is little question in reality that it is much more difficult for a person suffering from severe mental illness to get a job.  As discussed in the article, many employers are hesitant to hire workers with severe mental illness because they are worried the employees will have some type of dangerous or disruptive episode while at work.

While this is certainly a possibility, any employee could have such an episode and many are either diagnosed or have not disclosed any mental illness to their employers since in most occupations, there is not any obligation to do so. The main problem is that many people who are not familiar with mental illness do not know who people really act and they form an opinion based upon what is shown on TV or in the movies or from the worst cases scenarios that often make the news.

This is not an unreasonable thing to think for someone without any personal experience or training, but it not an accurate line of thinking.  The best thing it to work with these employers to educated on the truth about mental illness. This is what is happening now and it will go a long way to help the disabled get the respect and dignity they deserve.

In addition to working with employers, there is as a greater effort to provide education and vocational training to those who suffer from mental health conditions.  This will allow them to work and take care of themselves.  However, it is also important to have a safety net for those who cannot work and engage in substantial gainful activity.  This term, engage in substantial gainful activity is one used by SSA regulations that means able to work and earn around $1120 a month.  While this may not seem like a very high threshold, this is around what is given in SSDI benefits each month, and if a worker makes more than that, they will not qualify for SSDI benefits. There is however another benefit when a claimant is awarded SSDI benefits in that after a year of receiving benefits, the claimant will be eligible to receive Medicaid and this will allow a claimant to get much needed medical attention including treatment and routine care.

If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:

Revels v. Berryhill, October 26, 2017, U.S. Court of Appeals from the Ninth Circuit

More Blog Entries:

SSDI Appeal Results in Affirmation of Denial, Feb. 15, 2017, Boston SSDI Attorney Blog

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