If a diagnosed mental illness is keeping you from working, it may be possible to recover Social Security Disability benefits.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a Blue Book of impairment listings, that outlines the medical requirements for getting disability benefits for a variety of conditions. If you meet one of these conditions, you are eligible for disability based on your condition.
However, if you do not meet the requirements of at least one listing, you may still be able to recover benefits through a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment.
Our Social Security disability lawyers in Phoenix can help with your application and gather the necessary evidence to prove the debilitating qualities of your condition.
What is an RFC Assessment?
An RFC assessment considers the work activities you can perform despite the limitations of your mental condition and treatment.
The SSA looks to this assessment to decide if you can do your job or another type of work. If your symptoms prevent you from being able to hold any kind of work, benefits are awarded as a medical-vocational allowance rather than under a recognized disability listing.
For disability applicants with mental disorders, the RFC will evaluate your ability to conduct mental activities required for work. The SSA will look at your mental abilities and intellectual and social functions to determine your limitations.
The SSA considers several functional abilities to determine an applicant's mental RFC:
- Memory and understanding – This involves your ability to interpret, remember and follow through with instructions.
- Social interactions – Social functional ability is important for many jobs, even unskilled work. The SSA will consider your ability to participate with coworkers, ask questions, ask for help and accept feedback regarding your job.
- Concentration, persistence and pace – Your ability to focus on completing tasks will also be evaluated. This includes maintaining a routine on your own, performing simple instructions, making minor decisions and arriving to work on time.
- Adaptation – This involves the evaluation of your ability to deal with workplace pressures, stress and changes to your environment.
After evaluating your functional abilities, the SSA will determine the types of work you can do based on your limitations, whether sedentary, light, medium or heavy work.
If you are not found considerably limited in your ability to perform basic job functions, it will be difficult to obtain disability benefits.
Evidence Considered in an RFC
The SSA will consider both medical and nonmedical evidence to determine your RFC. Your medical records should include:
- All tests you have undergone, including psychological testing
- Reports and observations from medical experts and doctors
- Mental status evaluations
- Medical history
- Medical diagnoses you have received
- Treatment you have undergone and medications you have taken and how they affected your condition
- Symptoms from treatment
The SSA will also need to know if and how often you experience confusion, phobias, paranoia, depression, delusions or hallucinations.
Nonmedical evidence can include logs of your daily activities and personal accounts from those who know you and your daily behaviors. Personal accounts can be provided by family, friends, coworkers, social workers and others.
The disability advocates at Dayes Law Firm PC can help you file an initial application for disability or appeal a denied claim. We can help you get the compensation you need for your mental illness.