Facts about MPD Multiple 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.
Facts about the condition
1) Multiple personality disorder (MPD) is a mental illness and a dissociative disorder. Though most common people know the term 'multiple personality disorder' or 'split personality disorder', most doctors in the medical community refer to it as 'dissociative identity disorder ', otherwise known as DID.
2) There is quite a lot of controversy still surrounding MPD, especially since the disorder is almost entirely experienced in North America. There is still much debate and many skeptics when it comes to proving that dissociative identity disorder, or MPD, exists. Many in the medical community do not feel this is a legitimate, clinical condition.
3) MPD is linked to childhood trauma and abuse, and high levels of stress. Many with the condition report being physically, emotionally and sexually abused, especially during childhood. It is thought that these experiences have caused the patient to dissociate from their lives and create other personalities to deal with the trauma.
4) Most cases of MPD are brought on by childhood trauma, but it is also possible (though more rare) for adults to develop the condition in response to traumatic events (torture, kidnapping, etc.) that happen in adulthood.
5) The condition is characterized by alternative identities that switch back and forth within the person who experiences the condition. This may include symptoms of memory loss or amnesia, a skewed sense of identity, anxiety, depression, and a sense of oneself, others and life in general not being real.
6) The multiple personalities may be one or many, and are usually severely different from each other. These different personalities usually have different names, gender, mannerisms, personal stories, memories, and even different physical attributes, such as one personality needing eye glasses and another not.
7) Treatment for MPD is most often psychotherapy, which may include hypnosis, cognitive therapy, and creative art therapy such as drama, music or dance and movement arts. There are no specific medications for the condition, though many doctors will prescribe tranquilizers, anti-anxiety medications and anti-depressants to help patients control symptoms.
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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