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Seeking SSD benefits for a mental illness can present challenges

Living with a mental illness can cause a person in Philadelphia to suffer day in and day out. It may even cause them to lose touch with reality and, in the worst of cases, may even cause them to attempt to take their own life. Prompt and appropriate treatment of these diseases is essential to allow that individual experience an independent life. Despite that, individuals with mental illnesses may find it difficult or even impossible to hold down a job. When this happens, individuals may find that the only way they can take care of themselves is by receiving Social Security disability benefits.

The Social Security Administration reports that over 1.3 million individuals suffering from a mental illness receive disability benefits. In fact, this is the second most common type of illness for which one may receive disability benefits, just behind connective tissue disease and musculoskeletal system disorders.

If an individual has paid Federal Insurance Contributions Act taxes, and is unable to work due to a medical condition that has been ongoing for at least 12 months or is a terminal illness, the person may be eligible to seek disability benefits. However, proving that a mental illness has caused one's disability can be difficult. This is because, when it comes to mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder and major depression, the symptoms an individual experiences can greatly vary.

When an individual is seeking disability benefits due to a mental illness, that individual must present the SSA with a strong case. This can include information provided by the individual's physician as well as thorough medical documentation. In addition, it can help to have information related to the medical treatment the individual receives, any evaluations that the individual had undergone and the individual's medical history.

While the SSD application process is challenging, don't give up. Even if an applicant's initial application is denied, the person still has the chance to appeal. If one preservers, the person may find, under the right circumstances and with the right help, that the individual may obtain disability benefits.

Source: PsychCentral, "Help is Available When Mental Illness Prevents Working," Jim Allsup, accessed March 18, 2016

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Pennsylvania Bar Association Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee