You can be entitled to SSDI benefits or SSI benefits if you suffer from anxiety or depression. Depression, anxiety, and other mental health impairments can have a significant impact on a person’s life and career. These mental health impairments can make it impossible for an individual to work and earn a living. People with these severe mental health impairments are entitled to collect Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Qualifying for Benefits
The Social Security Administration will determine whether you have a severe mental health impairment that will disable you for 12 months or longer. After the Social Security Administration confirms that you meet basic eligibility, they will review your medical records to determine if you meet all program requirements.
One way to become eligible for benefits is to meet Social Security’s definition of Disability Listings. Disability Listings contain criteria for various mental disorders to be considered disabilities. If you meet the exact requirements and definitions of these disorders, you can automatically be granted disability benefits. Social Security has a Disability Listing for Depression and Anxiety. The Listings for mental disorders all require that the applicant’s mental health symptoms limit their activities of daily living or ability to function socially or to complete tasks. You can check out Social Security’s definition of anxiety or depression here.
If you don’t meet the exact requirements of the Disability Listings, you can still be eligible for benefits. The Social Security Administration will determine your mental “residual functional capacity” or “RFC”. Your RFC is what kind of work activities you can do despite your mental health impairment. If the Social Security Administration determines that your symptoms are so limiting that there is no job that you can perform, you will be awarded benefits.
Drug and Alcohol Abuse
The Social Security Administration can deny your disability claim if your drug or alcohol use contributes to your anxiety or depression. If you abuse drugs or alcohol, the Social Security Administration will determine whether your drug or alcohol abuse is a “material contributing factor” to a medical impairment. The drug and alcohol use will be “material” if the alcohol or drugs exacerbates or even causes the medical condition. The drug and alcohol use may also be “material” if the medical condition would improve if the drug and alcohol abuse stopped.
Improve Your Chances for Obtaining Benefits
Your doctor or psychologist may have good insight into the way your anxiety or depression affects your daily activities. The Social Security Administration will want to see evidence of any testing or evaluations diagnosing and treating your mental health impairments. Depression and anxiety can’t be shown on an x-ray or an MRI so it will be important to explain to your doctor how you are feeling and receive regular treatment to document your symptoms.
In addition, it is helpful to get support from a treating psychiatrist or psychologist. These are acceptable, preferred medical sources for Social Security disability claims. The opinion of your therapist will also be considered. Make sure to talk to your physician and have them complete a mental residual functional capacity form, which is a written testament that explains that you are unable to perform your job effectively due to anxiety or depression.
To qualify for SSDI or SSI, you must be able to show that your anxiety or depression is severe and prevents you from working full-time or completing all of your activities of daily living. To prove this impairment, you should complete an Activities of Daily Living questionnaire and file it with the Social Security Administration. Completing this questionnaire will help the Social Security Administration understand that your mental health impairment affects your memory, concentration, ability to interact with others, or work absences.
Get Help with Your Claim
Working with an experienced attorney can be a helpful step a person with depression or anxiety can take to improve the likelihood of receiving disability benefits. If you are suffering from anxiety or depression that is severe enough to affect your daily life and job responsibilities, reach out to the LaPorte Law Firm for a free consultation. We have over 40 years of experience helping those with mental health impairments win their Social Security benefits.