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Can disability benefits be claimed in case of mental conditions?

There are some people in Missouri who cannot work due to their physical or mental conditions. If these people can prove that their physical or mental condition prevents them from being employed, they can claim disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. Compared to physical disabilities, mental conditions have a social stigma attached to them and are often more difficult to prove.

The SSA has a list of recognized mental impairments, including but not limited to: anxiety attacks, depression, autistic disorders and schizophrenia. If a person suffers from any of the listed impairments, it can be deduced that the person cannot perform substantial gainful activity. However, even if the impairment is not listed, the person may still pursue a claim for disability benefits and prove that the condition may last for a year or more, and prevents the person from working.

Mental conditions are often difficult to prove as the person suffering may not be able to properly describe the symptoms. Sometimes, the impairment may last for a certain duration and may not be detected when the person is assessed for disability benefits. Hence, decisions may be taken from the physician's records, feedback from friends and family, and reported activities of daily living taken from a questionnaire. If the proof is not sufficient, a mental consultative exam may be conducted. After a psychiatric or mental evaluation, the written report is to the local Disability Determination Services agency.

The person's residual functional capacity will also be checked to determine what tasks can be performed by the person with the disability. If the person is markedly limited, he or she may be entitled to the benefits. The above information is very general and does not constitute legal advice. To determine how the law applies in a specific situation, you may wish to consider consulting a legal professional.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Mental Health Disability Claims," accessed on Aug. 14, 2014

Source: FindLaw.com, "Mental Health Disability Claims," accessed on Aug. 14, 2014

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Alan E. DeWoskin, P.C.
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