Filing for disability based on Borderline Personality Disorder
There is a qualifying listing in the Social Security Administration's impairment listing book (the blue book) that addresses borderline personality disorder. This is listing 12.08, titled, appropriately, Personality Disorders.
The SSA impairment manual describes personality disorders as conditions that exist when personality traits can be characterized as inflexible and maladaptive, and can be shown to impair an individual's functioning, both socially and as regards one's employability.
To satisfy the requirements of this listing (and be approved for disability on the basis of meeting this listing), a claimant's medical records must show behavior patterns that are maladaptive and that are associated with at least one of the following:
1. Seclusiveness or autistic thinking
2. Suspiciousness or hostility, to the degree that this can be considered to be pathologically inappropriate.
3. Oddities in the areas of verbalization, thoughts, behaviors, or perceptions.
4. A persistent occurrence of mood disturbance or disturbance of affect.
5. Dependence, passiveness, or aggressiveness, to a pathological degree.
6. Behavior that is damaging and impulsive.
7. Unstable and intense personal relationships.
To meet the Personality disorders listing, a claimant's medical records must also show at least two of the following:
1. A marked level of restriction in ADLs, or activities of daily living.
2. A marked level of difficulty in the area of maintaining social functioning.
3. Problems in maintaining concentration, persistance, or pace, to a marked degree.
4. A history of decompensatory episodes, each having some duration (the manual simply says "extended" duration.
Without question, to be approved for disability on the basis of the Personality Disorder listing, a claimant must have solid medical record documentation. This will typically mean a substantial history of psychiatric treatment provided by a psychiatrist whose treatment notes are clear when it comes to indicating the claimant's symptomology and the claimant's functional limitations in the areas of A) activities of daily living, B) social functioning, and C) attention (concentration, persistance, or pace).
Can a claimant who has borderline personality disorder be approved for disability if their records do not manage to satisfy the requirements of the Personality Disorder listing? Yes, by receiving a medical vocational allowance which is, in fact, how most disability applicants are approved for benefits.
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About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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