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How does the government evaluate qualifying mental conditions?

Both physical impairments and mental impairments can seriously affect the lives of Houston residents. Both can be debilitating, and both could make it impossible for a worker to work. Social Security Disability (SSD) can help workers living with physical disability, mental disability or both. When a claimant applies for Social Security Disability benefits for mental conditions, how does the Social Security Administration (SSA) determine whether the claimant is eligible for benefits?

The SSA lists mental disorders into 11 categories, including schizophrenia spectrum disorders, neurocognitive disorders, intellectual disorders, anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorders, personality and impulse-control disorders and others. For most mental disorders, there are three groups of criteria, two of which must be satisfied for the government to award SSD benefits. The first group of criteria, the medical criteria, must be satisfied to get benefits.

There are two other groups of criteria. One of these groups must be satisfied in addition to the medical criteria to get benefits. One of these groups is functional criteria assessed by the government. These criteria are understanding, remembering or applying information; interacting with others; concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; and adapting or managing oneself. The government says these are the skills necessary to hold down a job, so if a claimant cannot do these tasks, the claimant has satisfied this group of criteria.

The other group of criteria that could be satisfied is criteria used to evaluate serious and persistent mental disorders. To satisfy these criteria, there must be a medically documented history of the disorder for at least a two-year period, as well as evidence that satisfies other criteria. When these criteria are satisfied, the seriousness and persistence of the disorder has been demonstrated to the government's satisfaction.

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