Social Security Disability for Mental Illness: Questions and Answers

A variety of mental illnesses may qualify you for Social Security disability benefits.Social Security Disability benefits can help someone who is unable to sustain regular work due to mental health problems. If you find yourself or a loved one in this situation and are considering applying for disability benefits, you may have questions about what to do. Read below for answers to some frequently asked questions. Of course, you are always welcome to contact the Social Security attorneys of Keller & Keller for a free case evaluation.

Should I Apply for Disability if My Mental Illness Symptoms Are Worsening?

“My Mental Health Symptoms Have Worsened. I Lost My Job and Am Not Functioning Well Enough to Get Back to Work. Should I Seek Treatment or Apply for Disability?”

You don’t have to choose between these two options. Social Security Disability benefits can be available to those who are unable to work for a year or longer due to their impairments. If you are unable to work and believe you will be unable to get back to work for a year or longer (if ever), you can apply for disability benefits. At the same time, you should engage in regular mental health treatment with the goal of improving your functioning. If you are able to get back to work in less than a year, you can withdraw your application. Even if you get back to work while your claim is pending, you can still pursue past due benefits for the time you were unable to work due to your impairments.

Should I Delay Applying for Disability Benefits If I Have a Mental Illness?

“Why Not Just Wait and See if I Get Better, Then File?”

Delays in filing an application can be costly. For example, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits can only be paid back to the filing date of the application, so delays in filing this application reduce the amount of benefits which may be paid on it. Many cases also involve “deadlines” by which someone must be considered disabled in order to receive a Social Security Disability Insurance Benefit (DIB). Social Security needs to evaluate your mental status before this deadline, and will send those who file for disability to mental status examinations intended to generate information relevant to this evaluation. If you wait to file until after the applicable “deadline,” Social Security may not have enough information to find you disabled, and you could lose the chance to get your benefits.

Can I Get Disability If I Can’t Do My Old Job?

“I Worked for Many Years in a Highly Skilled Position. Now, I Can’t Do This Job Anymore Because I Can’t Sustain the Concentration and Focus It Requires. Can I Get Disability Benefits?”

It depends. If you are unable to perform your past work, Social Security will consider other work you may be able to perform. Social Security recognizes that individuals over the age of 50 face obstacles to changing careers and accounts for this in its rules. These rules provide that even if someone over 50 could perform the physical and mental requirements of certain other jobs, he or she can still be considered disabled because of the obstacles encountered by older workers in the competitive economy. (This can be a complex determination. For more specific answers, you can contact Keller & Keller.)

Can I Get Disability for Social Anxiety or Other Interpersonal Issues?

“My Mental Health Problems Create Real Difficulties in Interacting and Working With Others. Can I Get Disability?”

Again, it depends. Mental health problems can create issues with irritability and managing the stress of interpersonal conflict. Often, individuals will withdraw and isolate themselves more and more as mental health symptoms increase. If someone becomes unable to function independently outside of the home, disability benefits can be available. If someone over 50 can no longer sustain the social interaction of his or her past work (for example, if this person can no longer handle the required contact with the general public), this could be an important factor in the disability determination. However, Social Security will also consider whether a younger individual with social functioning problems could work a job performed in relative isolation. This is another questions which could be further explored in a free Keller & Keller case evaluation.

Can An Adult Disabled Child Qualify for Disability, Even If They’re Employed?

“My child has always had special needs and is now of working age. He is currently working part-time with the help of a charitable organization that provides the special workplace supervision he needs. Can we still apply for disability benefits?”

Yes. Social Security is available to those who cannot work on a regular basis (more or less full-time) or sustain earnings over $1,130 a month. Applying now could be beneficial because those who are considered to be disabled before the age of 22 can be eligible for an increased monthly benefit that is based on the earnings record of a parent who is retired, disabled, or deceased (instead of the SSI benefit). Delay could reduce the chances of getting this increased benefit.

Let the Social Security Disability Attorneys of Keller & Keller Handle Your Claim

If you have other questions about the disability application process, whether you may qualify, or anything else, we encourage you to contact us today and request a free, no-obligation consultation. From our headquarters in Indianapolis, Keller & Keller’s team of experienced disability attorneys will be able to answer all your questions and walk you through the entire disability process.

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