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People with mental disabilities are often reluctant to apply for Social Security Disability Benefits or SSI. Because mental conditions do not appear in x-rays or an MRI, many people who suffer feel the stigma of not being believed. Social Security takes mental conditions very seriously if presented through the correct lens and applied to precise criteria in the law.

Social Security primarily evaluates mental conditions in listings 12.00-12.15. Listings are criteria designated to specific medical conditions where, if every element is satisfied, the claimant is automatically considered medically disabled. There are listings for Neurocognitive disorders (12.02), Schizophrenia (12.03), depression (12.04), intellectual disorders (12.05), Anxiety/OCD (12.06), somatoform disorders (12.07), Personality/impulse control disorders (12.08), autism (12.10), neurodevelopmental disorders (12.11), eating disorders (12.13), and Post-traumatic stress disorder “PTSD” (12.15). Each listing has criteria specific to the condition. Evaluating whether someone meets the criteria of a listing requires an understanding of law and medicine.

If you don’t meet a listing, you still may be found disabled. If the criteria of a listing isn’t satisfied, Social Security will look to the work restrictions created by the medical condition. For instance, a person with post traumatic stress disorder may not meet a listing but have work restrictions as a result of the mental disorder. That individual will most likely not be able to perform all a job requires if the symptoms force him to be absent from work more than twice a month. In such an example, this person would be found disabled.

Mental Disorders And Physical Disorders

Mental disorders can also combine with physical disorders and, as a result, a claimant may be found disabled. It is also important to remember age can be a factor in this analysis. For example:

55-year-old Sandra suffers from depression and a herniated disc in her lower back. In her past, she worked as a banker. This job required her to sit all day and was very skilled. Her back pain limits her to doing “light work (lifting up to 20 pounds/standing and walking six hours), but her depression limits her to “Simple repetitive tasks.” Physically she can do her job, but her mental limitations preclude the advanced work she did in the past. Under these facts, she would be found disabled under grid rule 202.06.

There are endless laws and exceptions to laws that are used to determine one’s disability. This is why it is always best to hire an attorney to represent you in your claim for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits.