Depression, bi-polar disorder, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health disorders aren’t something that show up in someone’s lab tests or x-rays – but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t very real, very disabling conditions.
People can and do obtain Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits due to mental health issues. In fact, in 2020, government records indicate that 29% of the people receiving SSDI had some form of mental health issue.
However, that doesn’t mean that gaining approval for a disability related to your mental health is necessarily easy. Here are some common reasons that mental health claims can be denied:
You haven’t been seen by a specialist
A lot of general practitioners and internists feel comfortable enough to diagnose their patients with depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, but they often do so based on their clinical observations. A diagnosis from a mental health specialist, such as a psychiatrist or neuropsychiatrist, is usually backed up by specific, well-regarded tests, and that can carry more weight with an SSDI claims examiner.
You haven’t had your condition very long
SSDI benefits are only awarded for disabilities that have lasted or are expected to last for at least 12 months (or result in death). If your diagnosis is fairly recent, Social Security may consider that inadequate to determine if your condition will persist in the long term despite treatment.
You have not followed your doctor’s treatment plan
Unless a mental illness is so severe that a patient cannot follow a treatment plan, Social Security generally expects people to try to get better. If you’ve been noncompliant with your doctor’s recommendations for therapy, medication and other treatments, that can lead to a denied claim.
It can be difficult to get any disability claim approved, but that goes double for mental health claims, simply because they can be so hard to prove. That’s why it’s often best to seek legal guidance about your SSDI claim.