I receive many Social Security Disability referrals for claimants with mental impairments. It seems that unless a mental impairment is so severe that the claimant is hospitalized, the attorney is not interested in handling the claim. That should not be the case.
Like physical impairments, a claimant can establish entitlement to benefits by providing evidence that a “Listing” is satisfied. If the criteria of a listing are met, then the claimant is presumptively deemed disabled, and there is no need to consider if the claimant can perform past or any other work. A claimant’s condition needs to be pretty severe to meet a listing.
A case that I got approved this week, for a woman in her thirties, at the initial application level, illustrates another way to get benefits approved. When a claimant’s mental limitations do not meet or equal a listing, the Social Security Administration (the “SSA”) must consider if the claimant has the ability to meet the mental demands of past relevant work. The SSA is supposed to do that by considering whether the claimant can meet the basic mental demands of unskilled work.
According to the SSA’s internal operating rules called the “POMS”, the mental demands of unskilled work include the ability to: (a) understand, carry out and remember simple instructions; (b) make judgments that are commensurate with the functions of unskilled work, i.e., simple work-related decisions; (c) respond appropriately to supervision, coworkers and work situations; and (d) deal with changes in a routine work setting. A substantial loss of ability to meet ANY of those basic mental demands justifies a finding that the claimant is disabled.
By providing a detailed questionnaire to the claimant’s treating mental health provider, I was able to show that the claimant is disabled under the POMS. Since the POMS is supposed to apply at the initial application level, providing evidence to support the POMS is an effective way to get an application approved quicklyPrevious Next
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