Did you know that about 15 million adults suffer clinical depression each year? That’s equal to about 7% of the U.S. population over the age of 18.
Depression is considered a psychiatric disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It is a mood disorder that can interfere with a person’s daily activities, and it can seriously hamper one’s ability to work. Not surprisingly, depression is the leading cause of disability for people between the ages of 15 and 44. And depression is just one of many mental disorders impacting Americans.
If you or a loved one suffers from depression or other mental disorders, you know how debilitating the effects can be, including feelings of intense sadness, hopelessness and worthlessness. Often, these symptoms can remain for an extended period of time.
You should know that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has established guidelines for determining the kinds of disorders that qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The SSA’s “Blue Book” places mental disorders in 11 categories:
- Neurocognitive disorders;
- Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders;
- Depressive, bipolar and related disorders;
- Intellectual disorders;
- Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders;
- Somatic symptom and related disorders;
- Personality and impulse-control disorders;
- Autism spectrum disorders;
- Neurodevelopmental disorders;
- Eating disorders; and
- Trauma- and stressor-related disorders.
The SSA has developed a set of criteria for each kind of disorder. To qualify for disability benefits, you must demonstrate that the SSA’s criteria has been met and that the current conditions prevent you from engaging in meaningful work. For example, you would likely need to offer medical evidence that documents your condition. It would include things such as your physician’s notes, the diagnosis of your condition, a description of the treatments you’ve already undergone, how your condition limits your ability to work, and more.
Of course, if you’re suffering from any of these disorders, it may be too difficult for you to assemble the kind of evidence required by the SSA. That’s just one reason why it likely makes sense for you to hire an experienced attorney to help you put together the evidence and documentation you will need for a successful disability claim. An attorney can also advise you on whether you have a strong case for benefits or whether other options would better serve your interests. The process is a lengthy one, to be sure. It typically takes the SSA between 3-5 months to render an initial decision on disability claims.
There are many issues to consider when seeking disability benefits for mental health disorders, as an attorney, like a Social Security Eligibility Lawyer in Buffalo, NY, from a law firm like Hurwitz, Whitcher & Molloy, Attorneys at Law, can explain.