Mental Health Impairments

Experienced Portland Attorney Assisting with Social Security Disability Claims

Mental health impairments are as frequent and as debilitating as medical impairments. If these conditions are severe enough, a claimant is entitled to receive benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The SSDI program also includes claims for Disabled Widows’ Insurance (DWI) and Disabled Adult Children (DAC) benefits.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will allow a claimant to prove disability under one of 15 recognized listings for mental impairments. If your impairment does not satisfy a listing, you may still prove mental disability with good medical evidence showing functional loss that makes holding a full-time job impossible.

A mental health impairment may be harder to establish than a physical impairment because the impairment is more often based on subjective symptom reporting. However, many mental health impairments may be established with formal cognitive testing by a qualified psychologist.

My name is Sara L. Gabin, and I have been a Portland Social Security Disability lawyer for over 30 years. I have helped clients throughout Multnomah County and all surrounding areas receive the benefits that they deserve mental health impairments stop them from working. Most often, a valid claim is denied initially, and then it is necessary to go through at least the next two levels appeal, a reconsideration and a hearing. Frequently, a good mental health claim will continue to be denied even after a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Then, it is often necessary to go through the next two levels of appeal, Appeals Council and Federal District Court review. I can assist you in navigating the claims process to give you a better chance at success at all levels.

Mental Health Impairments

A claimant may establish disability based on a single mental health impairment or on a combination of mental health impairments. Additionally, a claim may establish disability based on a combination of a mental impairment and a physical impairment.

Common mental health impairments include:

  • Anxiety disorders: Evidence showing persistent anxiety, obsessive compulsive, or panic disorders with symptoms such as irritability, difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbance, constant irrational fear, frequent panic attacks, recurring compulsions or obsessions, unwanted and intrusive thoughts, and other symptoms.
  • Trauma- and stressor-related disorders (PTSD): Evidence of exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or violence, with symptoms such as intrusive memories or flashbacks, avoidance of reminders, mood disturbance, startle response, and sleep disturbance.
  • Eating Disorders: Documentation of a persistent alteration in eating or eating-related habits that significantly impairs physical or psychological health.
  • Depressive disorders: Evidence of major depression with symptoms such as depressed mood, appetite disturbance, sleep disturbance, difficulty concentrating, decreased energy, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and other symptoms. Also, evidence of bipolar illness with symptoms such as pressured speech, racing thoughts, grandiosity, agitation, a decreased need for sleep, and other symptoms.
  • Intellectual Disorder (Mental retardation): Documentation before age 22 of significant sub-average intellectual functioning measured by IQ testing showing an IQ of 70 or below, and dependence on another person for basic personal needs.
  • Neurocognitive Disorder: Evidence of organic brain injury with symptoms of cognitive decline in areas such as problem solving, learning and memory, language, perceptual-motor and social abilities.
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder: Documentation of qualitative deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, along with patterns and habits that are significantly restrictive to normal functioning.
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ADD and ADHD): Evidence showing symptoms such as frequent distractibility, difficulty sustaining concentration and organizing tasks, hyperactivity, impulsivity, excessive impatience, impaired learning skills, and other symptoms.
  • Personality disorders: Documentation of a long-standing and inflexible maladaptive behavior pattern that includes symptoms such as unreasonable distrust and suspiciousness, detachment, disregard of the rights of others, unstable interpersonal relationships, excessive attention seeking, excessive dependence, unprovoked anger and aggression, and other symptoms.
  • Schizophrenia and other Psychotic Disorders: Evidence showing symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations, disorganized thinking, grossly disorganized behavior, and catatonia.
  • Somatoform disorders: Documentation of a debility that is not explained by other medical or mental disorder; or documentation of a level of focus or distress that is disproportionate to symptoms of an illness; or preoccupation with having an illness that cannot be found.
Contact a Knowledgeable Portland Attorney to Assert Your Rights

Establishing eligibility for benefits based on a mental health impairment requires records from a qualified mental health professional who has been treating you. It is also important that you continue to receive and comply with treatment throughout the claims process. Many claims are lost because a claimant has not complied with treatment. A lawyer often can help a claimant obtain a reversal of a bad decision at the application, reconsideration or hearing phase of the SSA disability process. I represent disabled clients in Portland, Lake Oswego, Multnomah County, and all surrounding areas. Call Sara L. Gabin at (503) 620-3171 or contact us online to find out more about how I can help.