Have you been diagnosed with clinical depression? If so, you might be eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits (“SSDI”). Many people are hesitant to admit that they are unable to work — or are limited in their ability to work — because of an emotional or mental condition. But such conditions are common. About one in five adults, or 43.8 million, experience mental illness according to NAMI. Nearly 3.5 million receive SSDI benefits because of their mental health disability. In Louisiana alone, nearly 56,000 residents receive SSDI for various mental health disorders including:
- Autistic disorders;
- Developmental disorders;
- Childhood and adolescent disorders;
- Intellectual disability;
- Mood disorders;
- Organic mental disorders; and
- Schizophrenic and other psychotic disorders
Here at Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC, our New Orleans SSDI lawyers have the skills and the experience to help.
Am I Eligible for SSDI Benefits?
You are eligible to apply for SSDI if your depression, bipolar disorder or other mental condition is severe enough to prevent you from working. In general, if you have trouble with common daily tasks, you may be severely impacted. Can you get out of bed? Are you able to dress yourself? Can you make your own meals? Can you clean your house? Can you go to the store? Do you refuse to go to out with friends and/or family?
These are just a few of the questions that a mental health doctor will ask when evaluating your ability to work and function normally. If your condition is diagnosed as severe enough to prevent or restrict you from working or holding a job, you are eligible for SSDI benefits. Of course, being able to do your own housework does not necessarily mean you are able to work because of the debilitating effects of depression. Any SSDI claim must be based on evidence of work-related impairment. See Taylor v. Schweiker, 739 F.2d 1240 (7th Cir.1984).
How Do I Apply for SSDI Benefits for Mental Health Conditions?
First, you need to hire proven and talented SSDI attorneys. Second, you need to be diagnosed with a mental health condition which prevents you from working. We say “diagnosed” because your health condition will need to be “medically verifiable.” It is not enough for you to testify or give evidence of your mental health condition. There are regulations that require that any “mental impairment must be established by medical evidence consisting of signs, symptoms, and laboratory findings …” See 20 C.F.R. §404.1508.
Third, you must apply.
SSDI benefits are provided through through the Social Security Administration. After you apply, the SSA asks five questions:
First, are you currently employed? If so, then you are automatically considered not disabled and, therefore, not eligible for benefits.
Second, do you have a “severe impairment?” This is an impairment which significantly limits your physical or mental ability to work. If “no,” then you are not disabled.
Third, do you have an impairment on the specific list of impairments or LOI? The SSA keeps a long list of mental health and physical conditions that are considered to be automatically disabling. The LOI also contained hundreds of other conditions that MIGHT be disabling depending on the severity and combination with other conditions. If you condition is not automatically disabling, then the SSA continues to questions four and five.
Fourth, does your mental health condition prevent you from doing the sort of work you have done in the past? If “no,” then you are not disabled. If “yes,” the SSA moves to the final question.
Fifth, does your mental health condition prevent you from performing any sort of other work? If “no,” then you are not disabled; if “yes,” you are eligible for SSDI benefits.
SSDI Benefits and Diagnosed Mental Conditions: The Importance of Doctor’s Examinations
In general, depression, emotional distress and other mental health conditions are not automatically qualifying. That is, being diagnosed “with depression” is not generally enough, even if you are on medication. Your depression has to be severe enough to prevent you from working for long periods of time.
When applying for SSDI, you will need medical records and reports from your doctors. Among the reports that will be needed is an evaluation of your ability and limitations with respect to work. Your physician will specifically evaluate your mental abilities to do the following:
- Getting to and from work independently;
- Relating to direction of supervisor;
- Relating to co-workers;
- Working without undue assistance/direction;
- Working daily eight-hour shifts with usual rest periods;
- Remembering and following instructions;
- Using common sense;
- Ordinary mental functions, reading, counting;
- Meeting ordinary production standards; and
- Accommodating to work stress.
For particular types of work (such as teaching), additional factors are evaluated (such as ability to speak in public and in front of a group of people.)
Contact Ascend Disability Today to Discuss Your SSDI Benefits
At Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC, we have extensive experience helping Louisiana citizens apply for SSDI when they are unable to work because of depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD or other mental incapacity. These conditions can make it impossible to function normally, let alone hold a job and provide for you and your family. Our experienced New Orleans social security disability attorneys will fight for your rights to get the SSDI benefits to which you are entitled. Contact Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC and our New Orleans SSDI attorneys, today.
The key to winning SSDI benefits is providing substantial evidence, from the medical records, lab tests and evaluations, that you are impaired and unable to work or are severely limited in your ability to work. We can help make that evaluation. We can review your medical records and, if, for example, your doctor has not done a work-impairment evaluation, we may recommend that be done before you apply.
There is no reason to delay. You cannot begin receiving benefits until you apply. If you have already applied and have been denied, contact us immediately. There are very quick and final deadlines for appealing your denial. At the same time, do not panic or be discouraged. Many claimants are initially denied, but then succeed on appeal. Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC offers a confidential consultation, so reach out to us today to get stated.