Facts about Antisocial Personality Disorder and Filing for Disability

These selected pages answer some of the most basic, but also some of the most important, questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim for disability benefits.

  • How to apply for disability and the information that Social Security needs

  • Who will qualify for disability and what qualifying is based on

  • Requirements for disability - Qualifications Criteria for SSD and SSI

  • How to Prove you are disabled and win your disability benefits

  • Facts about the condition

    1. Antisocial personality disorder is a chronic mental illness that is shaped during the forming of the personality and is thought to be caused by a combination of environmental and genetic influences. Those with antisocial personality disorder have a disregard for the right of others, and often violate the rights of others because of their blatant disregard.

    2. There are many symptoms for antisocial personality disorder, including: lack of remorse, lying, stealing, lack of empathy for others, recklessness, inability to set and reach long-term goals, narcissism, depression, agitation, aggression, disregard for the safety of others, verbal abuse to others, inability to keep jobs or stay in school, lack of guilt, starting fights, drug abuse, alcoholism, breaking the law, impulsiveness, and more.

    3. In childhood, children with ASPD may engage in activities such as being cruel to animals or setting fires.

    4. Many times the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder are the most active during the late teen years and the early to mid 20's, and may improve by the time a person is around 40 years old, but that is not always the case. It is more common in men than women.

    5. There is no specific treatment for ASPD. To help treat the disorder, psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy and psychodynamic psychotherapy is often used, and stress management and anger management skills are taught. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers and anti-anxiety medications are also used.

    6. In severe cases of ASPD, hospitalization may be required.

    7. Complications of ASPD are fairly straightforward, given the symptoms. They are: aggression, child abuse, alcohol or drug abuse, problems in relationships, problems at work and school, risky and reckless behavior, suicidal tendencies, depression, anxiety, and incarceration.

    8. Diagnosis of ASPD depends on quite a few things. First, to be diagnosed you must be at least 18 years old and have had symptoms of ASPD before the age of 15. You also must have at least 3 symptoms, including aggression, irritability, lack of empathy, lack of guilt, disregard for social norms, and the inability to have lasting relationships.

    Qualifying for disability benefits with this condition

    Whether or not you qualify for disability and, as a result, are approved for disability benefits will depend entirely on the information obtained from your medical records.

    This includes whatever statements and treatment notes that may have been obtained from your treating physician (a doctor who has a history of treating your condition and is, therefore, qualified to comment as to your condition and prognosis). It also includes discharge summaries from hospital stays, reports of imaging studies (such as xrays, MRIs, and CT scans) and lab panels (i.e. bloodwork) as well as reports from physical therapy.

    In many disability claims, it may also include the results of a report issued by an independent physician who examines you at the request of the Social Security Administration.

    Qualifying for SSD or SSI benefits will also depend on the information obtained from your vocational, or work, history if you are an adult, or academic records if you are a minor-age child. In the case of adults, your work history information will allow a disability examiner (examiners make decisions at the initial claim and reconsideration appeal levels, but not at the hearing level where a judges decides the outcome of the case) to A) classify your past work, B) determine the physical and mental demands of your past work, C) decide if you can go back to a past job, and D) whether or not you have the ability to switch to some type of other work.

    The important thing to keep in mind is that the social security administration does not award benefits based on simply having a condition, but, instead, will base an approval or denial on the extent to which a condition causes functional limitations. Functional limitations can be great enough to make work activity not possible (or, for a child, make it impossible to engage in age-appropriate activities).

    Why are so many disability cases lost at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels?

    There are several reasons but here are just two:

    1) Social Security makes no attempt to obtain a statement from a claimant's treating physician. By contrast, at the hearing level, a claimant's disability attorney or disability representative will generally obtain and present this type of statement to a judge.

    Note: it is not enough for a doctor to simply state that their patient is disabled. To satisy Social Security's requirements, the physician must list in what ways and to what extent the individual is functionally limited. For this reason, many representatives and attorneys request that the physician fill out and sign a specialized medical source statement that captures the correct information. Solid Supporting statements from physicians easily make the difference between winning or losing a disability case at the hearing level.

    2) Prior to the hearing level, a claimant will not have the opportunity to explain how their condition limits them, nor will their attorney or representative have the opportunity to make a presentation based on the evidence of the case. This is because at the initial levels of the disability system, a disability examiner decides the case without meeting the claimant. The examiner may contact the claimant to gather information on activities of daily living and with regard to medical treatment or past jobs, but usually nothing more. At the hearing level, however, presenting an argument for approval based on medical evidence that has been obtained and submitted is exactly what happens.

    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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