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SSDRC Disability Blog

Is it Difficult to Win Social Security Disability in Texas if you have Mental Illness?

Answer: Yes. It can be fairly difficult to win a case in Texas if your primary allegation that you list on a disability application involves a mental condition.

Why is this? I'll draw upon my experience as a former disability examiner for the social security administration to answer this question.

1. Disability examiners know very little about any specific mental illness, or mental illness in general. True, they have the impairment listing manual available to them (also known as the "blue book", a manual that lists the disability criteria for a number of conditions) and they are trained to look for indications of functional limitations in a claimant's medical records.

However, meager training with regard to the nature of mental illness logically leads to a meager understanding of the functional limitations that are part and parcel of mental illness. And this, without a doubt, has an impact on decisional outcomes.

2. Disability examiners (and their unit supervisors and unit psychological consultants) are far too quick to make the determination that a claimant's mental condition has not, or will not, satisfy duration. What do I mean by duration? The definition of disability used by the social security administration carries with it the requirement that, for a condition to be considered disabling, it must last at least 12 months.

Unfortunately, certain forms of mental illness tend to exhibt a pattern of exacerbation and remission. That is, they appear to get better and worse. Bipolar disorder is a good example of this phenomenon.

However, the appearance of a condition remissing may amount to nothing more than "appearance" and may give rise to a conclusion that is entirely incorrect. For instance, a disability examiner may conclude that a claimant's state of disability did not last long enough to satisy the social security administration's defintion of disability when, in actual fact, the condition, from a practical standpoint, never ceased to be functionally limiting at all.

Under Social security disability or SSI disability you can win on the basis of a mental disability (and this includes but is not limited to any one of the following impairments: depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, autism, mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, schizophrenia, personality disorder, somatoform disorder, etc)? The answer, of course, is yes.

However, as with any case based on one or more impairments, there is always the chance that an approval will not be made on the basis of satisfying a listing in the listing book but, rather, on the basis of a medical vocational allowance (simply put, if the medical evidence indicates that you can no longer perform your past work or reasonably be expected to perform some type of other work, you may be approved). Also, as with all cases, there is the strong statistical likelihood that a case will not be approved at the disability application level. If a case is denied at the application level, however, a claimant may (and should) file a disability appeal.

The first appeal is the request for reconsideration and the second appeal is the request for hearing before an administrative law judge.

What are your chances of being approved in Texas at either appeal level? At the reconsideration level, in most states, a claimant stands approximately an 85 percent chance of being denied a second time. However, at the disability hearing level a claimant has approximately a forty percent chance of winning benefits if they are unrepresented and approximately a 60 percent chance of winning benefits if they are represented by a disability lawyer or by a non-attorney claimant's representative.

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

Related pages:

Physician Support for Your Social Security Disability Case in Texas
Why most SS Disability Claims are Denied in Texas
Getting seen by a doctor for Social Security Disability in Texas
Is it Difficult to Win Social Security Disability in Texas if you have Mental Illness?
Social Security Disability in Texas and Physicians
What is the Representation Fee for disability claim in Texas?
Who is eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI Disability in Texas?
The Texas Disability Hearing and Doctor Records
Will my doctor help me on my disability case in Texas?
How many people win Disability Benefits from Social Security in Texas?
What do I Bring to a Social Security Disability Application Interview in Texas?

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 provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

What to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits
Applying for disability benefits, SSI and SSDI
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability?
How does back pay for Social Security disability work?
Social Security Disability And SSI Qualifications
Permanent Disability Qualifications for SSD and SSI
Status of your social security disability or SSI case
Disability lawyer representation, finding lawyers
What is qualifying for disability based on?
How to qualify for disability, qualifying for Benefits
Qualifications for Disability Benefits
How long does it take to get disability after applying?
Disability application, how to file in Texas
Texas disability requirements
Eligibility and qualifying for disability in Texas
What are the qualifications for disability in Texas?
Will I Qualify For Disability Benefits in Texas?
Getting a Texas disability lawyer, attorney, or advocate