Missourians who are suffering from mental illness or have a mental disorder and are seeking Social Security disability benefits because of it might be intimidated by the evidence that the Social Security Administration needs to approve their application. By nature, people with mental issues can have certain anxieties and fear of not meeting the requirements to get benefits. This can be overwhelming. One aspect of the evidentiary process is longitudinal evidence. This means that variables are considered when observing the person over a certain period to determine how their mental issues are affecting them.

With longitudinal evidence, the SSA will use the assessment to see how the person has functioned and evaluate changes in their level of functioning. The medical providers will give the SSA this information if the SSA needs to know how the person’s issues have affected them in the past. There are some circumstances in which it can be difficult to accrue this evidence. If, for example, a person has had an extended period of homelessness, it will be all-but impossible to have longitudinal evidence. For those suffering from severe mental disorders, there will likely be evidence of this in how they are functioning despite not having an ongoing medical relationship with a doctor or treating facility. People who know the person such as family, friends, colleagues, social workers and others can give information to the SSA.

If there is no longitudinal evidence, the SSA will use objective medical evidence as well as other information in the case record to come to its determination. A consultative examination might be necessary to document the disorder. This will be placed in the record. Medical history, symptoms the person has had, tests, and medical opinions will all be considered with an application. Without longitudinal evidence, it is possible that there will not be enough for the SSA to approve benefits if the person does not automatically meet a listing. There are other steps to take that could help a person meet the requirements to get benefits.

Longitudinal evidence can be useful for a person who is seeking SSD benefits based on having qualifying mental conditions. This can be a confusing part of the process and it is important for people who are already struggling with mental illness to have help getting through the application process. A legal professional who is experienced in Social Security disability claims and the evidence that is needed can be of assistance.

Source: ssa.gov, “12.00 Mental Disorders — Adult — 5. Need for longitudinal evidence,” accessed on March 6, 2018