Jonathan H. Poznansky, Attorney at Law

How to prove disability for a mental health condition


Whether you are born with a disability or acquired one during life, chances are that it presents some challenges to your life. Suffering from a mental condition can completely disrupt an individual's life. He or she may struggle to maintain healthy relationships, obtain an education and find and hold employment. Under these circumstances, individuals may find themselves facing difficulty not only in paying their medical expenses but also their living expenses. Social Security disability seeks to provide relief to these individuals, but they, like other SSD claimants, must show that they meet the federal requirements necessary to be deemed disabled.

To prove disability for a mental health condition, an individual must submit both medical and non-medical evidence to the Social Security Administration. The medical evidence may include one's medical history, and laboratory results,and imaging tests. The evidence submitted can also include courses of treatment that have been tried and how the claimant's condition reacted to that treatment. Non-medical evidence, which may include statements from the claimant and people who know him or her, help give the SSA a sense of how the medical condition has affected the individual's ability to partake in daily activities, including working.

Of course, this evidence, when considered in its totality, must demonstrate disability. It is important to note, though, that the SSA is very clear in the way it defines its disability categories. Even the terms found within those categories can have their own definitions. For example, to qualify for SSD benefits under some conditions, individuals must show extreme limitation, defined as an inability to stand from a seated position, difficulty maintaining balance while standing and walking or trouble using the upper extremities in a way that allows the individual to complete work-related activities.

Since the SSA tries to define everything, those suffering from a disability have to be sure to tailor their claims to fit those definitions. This is not to say that individuals should lie on their claims, as this constitutes fraud, but they should instead make sure they are crafting their case with an eye on how they can use their evidence to satisfy the SSA's requirements. Oftentimes, during the initial claim process or an appeal, a skilled attorney can prove beneficial.

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