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Mental Health Injuries

Social Security with Shield Icon – Red Button on Black Computer Keyboard.

Many people struggle daily with injuries that are invisible to those around them. Depression, bi-polar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, can be difficult to explain, quantify, and prove.

It’s easier for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to accept the application of someone with diabetes or cancer, simply because these injuries are simple to document medically, and the limitations associated with the injuries are more straightforward to assess. 

If you are struggling with an “invisible” mental health injury that affects your ability to work and care for your dependents, you don’t have to suffer in silence. You may be able receive Social Security benefits for disability to help make ends meet. Here are some key things you need to know about documenting your struggles with your condition, and how to go about applying for the benefits you need. 

Fight Against the Temporary Mindset

Many people who experience permanent damage to their mental health because of stress or trauma have trouble with getting permanent disability benefits, even though their ability to work full-time is usually compromised. Your first goal should be to show Social Security that the stress, depression, or anxiety you experience on a daily basis will not get better.

Generally, you’ll need:

  • The reports of a medical professional. Even for mental health issues, a medical doctor or psychologist will need to assess what effect the psychological issue might have with your physical health. For example, a person with PTSD might have trouble sleeping at night and therefore is unsafe to operate a crane or forklift at his or her place of employment. 
  • Brain scans to provide physical evidence. In some cases, such when someone experiences a loss in cognitive reasoning because of brain injury, the effects may be seen on MRI or CAT scans. These give the concrete evidence to make your case stronger.
  • Accepted tests that display ability, such as IQ tests or exercises meant to demonstrate your cognitive ability. For example, a person with chronic short term memory loss may have trouble completing reading comprehension questions. 
  • An evaluation from a psychologist. Some problems do get better with time, but others do not. You should have had ongoing evaluation from a mental health professional to help show that your life is permanently affected.
  • To thoroughly document the conditions under which the injury occurred, if there was an initiating event. For example, if you were in a car accident that lead to brain damage, your cognitive abilities might not be the same as they were before. Write down (or have someone write for you) what occurred and detail how your life is different now. 

The person processing your application may ask for new evaluations or accounts. Provide all needed paperwork and do not miss deadlines. The simplest way to keep your application from being rejected the first time is to provide all the documents and to follow up as required. 

Comply With Prescribed Medical Treatments

Because it’s possible that those reviewing your case may not think it serious enough to merit Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits, it’s especially important that you follow doctor’s orders to the letter. Your doctor, for example, might recommend that you also receive counseling. Skipping the counseling could get your claim denied, because it shows a lack of compliance to prescribed medical interventions that could help improve your health.

Continuing with the right course of treatment is another source of “proof” for an invisible mental health problem. If you follow the advice of medical professionals and show little improvement, it’s easier to argue that your impairment will continue to affect your life. 

Appeal If Rejected

If your case is rejected after the lengthy first application, it is not time to give up. Many people, especially when applying without the help of an attorney, experience rejection after the first application.

If you have been rejected, a lawyer can help you appeal. Be sure to act quickly, because you only have 60 days to appeal before your case is fully closed. That is one of the benefits of having an attorney: the attorney can stay on top of deadlines for you and help with the paperwork.

For more information about mental health disability benefits, contact us at Glen Cook Social Security Attorney. We can help you get the benefits you deserve, even when they are difficult to obtain. We can guide you through the entire process to make sure your case is as strong as possible.