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Old 11-10-2013, 02:05 PM
 
676 posts, read 699,536 times
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I have filed for mental disability. Long story short, I am now overwhelmed with life. I will either get it or I won't. My question is, has anyone ever filed for a mental disability and was granted the disability? They want me to have a psychiatric exam which is fine with me but I am terrified of getting out and going into something I don't what to expect. Among other things I have Agoraphobia. I have to MAKE myself get out because it cannot be done by phone....Also does anyone know what they will ask ?
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Old 11-11-2013, 01:46 PM
 
9,209 posts, read 18,039,121 times
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I've helped numerous people apply for and obtain SSDI/SSI for mental health disabilities.

First, you will have to have an established diagnosis. If you've been in treatment for your condition, SSA will request records from your providers. If you've never had treatment for your condition, it will be much more difficult, as it will appear that you only decided to pursue treatment in order to get financial benefits. Whoever evaluates you will need to perform a psychiatric evaluation, and clearly document your diagnosis and the signs & symptoms that are necessary to assign that diagnosis.

The second part of the evaluation looks at what they call "residual functioning capacity" which basically means, "how you function in daily activities, and the problems you experience despite being in treatment."

You can refer to this form, which the psychiatrist will be filling out.
http://ssaconnect.com/tfiles/SSA-4734-F4-SUP.pdf



They look at 4 areas, and determine if you have limitations in those areas, and how limited you are. An evaluator will describe your level of limitation in each area as: No limitations, Mild limitations, Marked Limitations, or Extreme Limitations. The information will come from the psych evaluation itself, but also from your history. Already being in treatment and having this history documented will be immensely helpful.

1. Understanding, remembering, and carrying out instructions
They might give you simple instructions and ask you to remember them and then carry them out. Then they will try increasing more complex instructions. You may get some basic memory questions. You might be given some instructions verbally and some in writing. You'll be asked about your history of being able to remember and carry out directions, and any problems you'd had in this area. It helps to have specific examples, not just "oh, I've always had problems with following directions."


2. Social interaction
They will assess your ability to interact appropriately with people, accept feedback & criticism, ability to ask for help when needed, ability to not be distracting or disruptive to others. They will asses how your mental health symptoms interfere with communication with others. You will also be asked about your history of problems with communicating and relating to people. It helps to have specific examples, not just "I've always worried too much about what people think."


3. Concentration, persistence, and pace
You may be asked to perform some repetitive task, or to complete a few tasks over a certain period of time. Your ability to concentrate without getting distracted will be assessed. They will also look at your ability to stick to a routine and follow a schedule (like being on time). You'll be asked about your history of any problems with sticking to a schedule, concentrating, distractibility, working too slowly or rushing through things and making mistakes.


4. Adaptation to stresses
How you cope with normal stresses, especially work-related stresses, interruptions. How you maintain safety by being aware of common, ordinary dangers. You'll be asked about your history of coping with stresses and problems you've demonstrated. Again, have specific examples. It's especially helpful if you have several examples of withdrawing from jobs or school settings due to not being able to handle the stress.

If you are going to a formal evaluation with someone set up by SSA and not your usual treatment provider, it helps to have notes with you, to remind yourself of examples you needed to report, because when you get in there and you're nervous, you may forget.



There used to be items on this evaluation that asked about your normal "ADLs" or activities of daily living (hygiene, grooming, dressing appropriately, cleaning and household maintenance, getting around in the community--either driving or taking public transport, paying bills, etc) and repeated episodes of deterioration/decompensation.

These aren't on the form now, but the information about problems in those areas is extremely helpful in establishing that a person has a marked disability. So I still like to ensure the record and the evaluation touch on these areas.


Keep in mind that nearly EVERYONE is turned down the first time they apply. The only people I've ever seen get approved the first time had schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, with long periods of hospitalization, and multiple episodes of commitment and hospitalization. If your only documented problem is an anxiety disorder, the bar is set higher, and you'll likely have to go through several appeals.

Documenting a marked disability is not a one-shot thing that one evaluation is going to handle. It takes a record spanning several years of living with a condition, and having professionals document the impairments you experience.


Another thing to keep in mind is that most mental health professionals are now in the habit of emphasizing client strengths and abilities rather than deficits and problems. We have to get out of that strengths-based approach when completing documentation for establishing a disability. So if SSA just requests your ordinary mental health records, they will get all kinds of documentation about your strengths. Someone on your treatment team will have to specifically document your deficits, in all of the above areas.
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Old 11-11-2013, 08:20 PM
 
676 posts, read 699,536 times
Reputation: 403
Default Mental Disability

Quote:
Originally Posted by TracySam View Post
I've helped numerous people apply for and obtain SSDI/SSI for mental health disabilities.

First, you will have to have an established diagnosis. If you've been in treatment for your condition, SSA will request records from your providers. If you've never had treatment for your condition, it will be much more difficult, as it will appear that you only decided to pursue treatment in order to get financial benefits. Whoever evaluates you will need to perform a psychiatric evaluation, and clearly document your diagnosis and the signs & symptoms that are necessary to assign that diagnosis.

The second part of the evaluation looks at what they call "residual functioning capacity" which basically means, "how you function in daily activities, and the problems you experience despite being in treatment."

You can refer to this form, which the psychiatrist will be filling out.
http://ssaconnect.com/tfiles/SSA-4734-F4-SUP.pdf



They look at 4 areas, and determine if you have limitations in those areas, and how limited you are. An evaluator will describe your level of limitation in each area as: No limitations, Mild limitations, Marked Limitations, or Extreme Limitations. The information will come from the psych evaluation itself, but also from your history. Already being in treatment and having this history documented will be immensely helpful.

1. Understanding, remembering, and carrying out instructions
They might give you simple instructions and ask you to remember them and then carry them out. Then they will try increasing more complex instructions. You may get some basic memory questions. You might be given some instructions verbally and some in writing. You'll be asked about your history of being able to remember and carry out directions, and any problems you'd had in this area. It helps to have specific examples, not just "oh, I've always had problems with following directions."


2. Social interaction
They will assess your ability to interact appropriately with people, accept feedback & criticism, ability to ask for help when needed, ability to not be distracting or disruptive to others. They will asses how your mental health symptoms interfere with communication with others. You will also be asked about your history of problems with communicating and relating to people. It helps to have specific examples, not just "I've always worried too much about what people think."


3. Concentration, persistence, and pace
You may be asked to perform some repetitive task, or to complete a few tasks over a certain period of time. Your ability to concentrate without getting distracted will be assessed. They will also look at your ability to stick to a routine and follow a schedule (like being on time). You'll be asked about your history of any problems with sticking to a schedule, concentrating, distractibility, working too slowly or rushing through things and making mistakes.


4. Adaptation to stresses
How you cope with normal stresses, especially work-related stresses, interruptions. How you maintain safety by being aware of common, ordinary dangers. You'll be asked about your history of coping with stresses and problems you've demonstrated. Again, have specific examples. It's especially helpful if you have several examples of withdrawing from jobs or school settings due to not being able to handle the stress.

If you are going to a formal evaluation with someone set up by SSA and not your usual treatment provider, it helps to have notes with you, to remind yourself of examples you needed to report, because when you get in there and you're nervous, you may forget.



There used to be items on this evaluation that asked about your normal "ADLs" or activities of daily living (hygiene, grooming, dressing appropriately, cleaning and household maintenance, getting around in the community--either driving or taking public transport, paying bills, etc) and repeated episodes of deterioration/decompensation.

These aren't on the form now, but the information about problems in those areas is extremely helpful in establishing that a person has a marked disability. So I still like to ensure the record and the evaluation touch on these areas.


Keep in mind that nearly EVERYONE is turned down the first time they apply. The only people I've ever seen get approved the first time had schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, with long periods of hospitalization, and multiple episodes of commitment and hospitalization. If your only documented problem is an anxiety disorder, the bar is set higher, and you'll likely have to go through several appeals.

Documenting a marked disability is not a one-shot thing that one evaluation is going to handle. It takes a record spanning several years of living with a condition, and having professionals document the impairments you experience.


Another thing to keep in mind is that most mental health professionals are now in the habit of emphasizing client strengths and abilities rather than deficits and problems. We have to get out of that strengths-based approach when completing documentation for establishing a disability. So if SSA just requests your ordinary mental health records, they will get all kinds of documentation about your strengths. Someone on your treatment team will have to specifically document your deficits, in all of the above areas.
One extra question. I hope you don't mind. At times I DO feel suicidal. But won't I be "locked" up if I tell them that? My conditions make me think of ways I would do it. But should I tell them without the fear of being held against my will. Thank you once again.
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Old 11-11-2013, 08:24 PM
 
Location: Mississippi
1,246 posts, read 1,712,600 times
Reputation: 2486
Also know that most people get denied at first. You will need to keep appealing and eventually you will get it. If you get a lawyer after the first denial they can often get it faster for you. Be aware that this process will take at least a couple of years from what I have observed.
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Old 11-12-2013, 08:28 AM
 
9,209 posts, read 18,039,121 times
Reputation: 21950
Quote:
Originally Posted by tarajane2013 View Post
One extra question. I hope you don't mind. At times I DO feel suicidal. But won't I be "locked" up if I tell them that? My conditions make me think of ways I would do it. But should I tell them without the fear of being held against my will. Thank you once again.

You can only be involuntarily committed to a hospital (usually 72 hours) if you are currently a danger to yourself or others. Having passing suicidal thoughts under stress should not qualify. But having the thoughts plus a plan, plus the intent to do it would probably lead any professional to at least want you evaluated at a crisis center (usually connected to an ER on MH clinic).

If someone tells me they sometimes get suicidal thoughts, I ask more questions. How often? What triggers them? Does it get to the point where you come up with plans as to how to do it? Does it stop there, or have you ever attempted? Or do you ever do like a "rehearsal" of it? Are you feeling right now like you want to die? Can you say confidently that you currently have no intention of acting on your suicidal thoughts? Do you have something you can do that helps you get through the suicidal thoughts, something that helps them pass?
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Old 11-12-2013, 08:29 AM
 
9,209 posts, read 18,039,121 times
Reputation: 21950
And when it's time to get an attorney, make sure you find one that specializes in SS disability, preferably in mental health disability. And make sure they work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if you win, and the money comes out of whatever back payment SS owes you.
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Old 11-12-2013, 08:41 AM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
21,481 posts, read 26,078,274 times
Reputation: 26426
Quote:
Originally Posted by tarajane2013 View Post
I have filed for mental disability. Long story short, I am now overwhelmed with life. I will either get it or I won't. My question is, has anyone ever filed for a mental disability and was granted the disability? They want me to have a psychiatric exam which is fine with me but I am terrified of getting out and going into something I don't what to expect. Among other things I have Agoraphobia. I have to MAKE myself get out because it cannot be done by phone....Also does anyone know what they will ask ?
If you have never been treated, then you should be evaluated and diagnosed before you assume that your disability is permanent.

Agoraphobia is a manifestation of anxiety, basically a type of panic disorder, and it can be treated.
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Old 11-12-2013, 04:30 PM
 
676 posts, read 699,536 times
Reputation: 403
Default Mental

Quote:
Originally Posted by TracySam View Post
And when it's time to get an attorney, make sure you find one that specializes in SS disability, preferably in mental health disability. And make sure they work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if you win, and the money comes out of whatever back payment SS owes you.
Once again, thank you.....
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Old 11-12-2013, 04:47 PM
 
9,263 posts, read 7,284,180 times
Reputation: 22720
Quote:
Originally Posted by suzy_q2010 View Post
If you have never been treated, then you should be evaluated and diagnosed before you assume that your disability is permanent.

Agoraphobia is a manifestation of anxiety, basically a type of panic disorder, and it can be treated.
Why seek treatment when you can get free money?

It's a huge leap to go from having some issues to being mentally disabled.
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Old 11-12-2013, 07:22 PM
 
2,740 posts, read 6,980,251 times
Reputation: 2665
Quote:
Originally Posted by tarajane2013 View Post
I have filed for mental disability. Long story short, I am now overwhelmed with life. I will either get it or I won't. My question is, has anyone ever filed for a mental disability and was granted the disability? They want me to have a psychiatric exam which is fine with me but I am terrified of getting out and going into something I don't what to expect. Among other things I have Agoraphobia. I have to MAKE myself get out because it cannot be done by phone....Also does anyone know what they will ask ?


TracySam has given you some great information.

Being eligible for disability requires that you have a condition that is terminal or significantly limits your ability to perform Activities of Daily Living. The terminal situation speaks for itself. The inability to perform ADL's is where it becomes a bit more obscure.

With psychiatric claims, your age, education level, employment history and history of treatment will factor in greatly. There are many psychiatric conditions that are transient and with proper treatment are resolved or mitigated, which is why a well documented history of treatment, medication, hospitalization would help your case.

Well documented Axis diagnoses would help your case.
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