Overview of Disability

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How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

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Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

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Disability through SSA

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Working and Disability

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Disability Conditions List

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The Social Security Disability and SSI Process for Mental Claims based on Mental Disorders

Disability claims with the Social security administration are filed for practically every type of physical and mental impairment. Very seldom is it the case that an SSD (social security disability) or SSI (supplemental security income) claim will be filed on the basis of a single condition.

In most cases, there will be multiple conditions listed on the disability report form (the SSA-3368 form that is submitted by the claimant at the time of filing for disability). And very often, a claim will be filed on the basis of having both mental and physical conditions (depression and degenerative disc disease, for example).

However, whether a claim is filed on the basis of a mental condition alone, or in combination with several other mental or physical conditions, the process is the same. At the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels, the disability examiner who is determining the outcome of the claim will do the following:

1. The disability examiner will Send MER letters to every single treatment source listed by the claimant at the time they have filed a claim. MER stands for medical evidence of record. The examiner will attempt to get all relevant records from every listed source, and may even attempt to get records which were not specifically listed by the claimant but which were discovered during the review of other medical records.

For example, it is not uncommon for a disability examiner to learn that a claimant was treated by a certain psychiatrist or psychologist when reading office treatment notes provided by the claimant's family doctor, or while reading an admission or discharge summary from a hospital stay.

2. The disability examiner will evaluate all the mental health and mental treatment records after they have arrived, looking for evidence that might indicate mental functional limitations. The social security administration uses a system of evaluation (for mental disability claims) that assumes a certain set of abilities must exist for a claimant to be able to perform work activity.

If these abilities do not exist in the claimant as a result of their condition, or if they possess a certain ability to a lesser extent, the claimant will be considered to have functional limitations in this area.

What are the various basic abilities which, according to SSA, a claimant must have in order to be capable of performing work activity? The most basic are the following:

A) The ability to understand, carry out, and remember simple instructions. This ability further involves certain various subsidiary abilities such as the ability to remember work locations and procedures, the ability to carry out a work routine without special supervision, the ability to maintain attention and concentration, and the ability to adhere to a defined work schedule.

B) The ability to use judgement, which includes the ability to make basic decisions related to work and the ability to be aware of dangers and hazards in the work environment.

C) The ability to respond appropriately to work situations and to other individuals in the work place such as supervisors and fellow workers.

D) The ability to respond, and adapt to, changes in the work environment.

Additional information at:

What can I expect from a Social Security Mental Examination or Evaluation?
Social Security Disability and SSI Mental Claims and Criteria

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

Can You Get Approved For SSI or SSD Benefits IF You Have A Mental Condition But Do Not Take Medication?
Will Your Claim for Disability be Handled Differently if it is Based on a Physical or Mental Problem?
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
The Social Security Disability and SSI Process for Mental Claims based on Mental Disorders
When you file for disability and have both Mental and Physical Conditions
What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Are SSI and Social Security Disability Requirements Tougher For Mental Claims?
Can I apply for benefits with bipolar and no long term medical history?
Social Security Disability, SSI, Mental Disorders, and Functional Limitations
Eligibility for disability with ADHD

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria