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Many clients tell me that they have been told, even by attorneys who practice Social Security law, that it is very hard to secure social security disability (“SSD”) benefits based upon mental impairments. The truth is that while different standards may be used, obtaining benefits for a mental disorder is no more difficult than obtaining benefits for an equally severe physical condition. The problem may be that most people simply do not know how to establish the severity of a mental condition properly.
A 27 year old claimant came to me after his SSD application was denied on the grounds that his mental disorder was not severe enough to prevent him from working. I did a couple of things to help establish the severity of his condition. First, I had the psychiatrist assess the claimant ability to handle mental tasks. Second, because the assessment was rather severe, I then asked whether the claimant met a listing, which the psychiatrist said the claimant did. When a claimant meets a listing the claimant is presumptively deemed disabled. Third, I advised the claimant to start seeing a psychologist too. The psychiatrist concurred with the findings and conclusions of the psychiatrist. Thus, the claimant now had two very strong treating opinions regarding his limited mental functionality.
Because the findings and conclusions of the psychologist and psychiatrist were so supportive of the claimant’s diminished mental functional capacity, I submitted an request for an on the record (“OTR”) decision. The OTR was approved in less than two months. The end result is that the client avoided having to confront the stress of a hearing. Just as importantly, the claimant did not have to wait two years for a hearing before having his application approvedPrevious Next
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