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How does the SSA evaluate mental conditions?

Many people in the Houston area suffer from one or more mental disorders that could provide the basis for a successful claim for Social Security Disability Benefits insurance. The Social Security Administration recognizes a number of mental disorders as qualifying disabilities provided the claimant can provide the necessary supporting information.

SSA regulations define 11 different kinds of mental disorders that can support a claim for disability benefits. The kinds of qualifying disorders include neurocognitive disorders, schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, depression and bipolar disorder, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders and several others. Each of the disorders has different features, but the SSA has developed objective criteria that apply to all eleven.

The claimant must first provide objective medical evidence of the disorder from an acceptable source to verify the finding of a mental disorder. The SSA may request additional evidence depending upon the type of disorder that is involved. Evidence from medical sources may include a description of reported symptoms, medical and psychological history, results of mental status exams, effect and benefits of psychotherapy and expected duration of symptoms.

The claimant can also submit evidence from family members and friends that describe the claimant's daily functioning. The SSA will also consider evidence from a recently-attended school, from vocational training and work-related programs. The SSA also requires "longitudinal evidence" to assess the long term effect of the disability. The SSA also evaluates the claimant's ability to interact with others. The complete list of sources of relevant information is far too long to be included in this blog post.

Anyone who is contemplating filing a claim for SSI benefits based upon a mental condition may wish to consult a lawyer who is experienced in handling SSDI claims for advice on the type of evidence that may be required to support a successful claim.

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