Tennessee Social Security Mental Disability Benefits

The word “disability” often brings to mind a physical condition that interferes with one’s quality of life, but it may also refer to one of several recognized mental or cognitive conditions.

The Social Security Administration lists several disabling conditions for both adults and children that are considered mental disorders. Even if you yourself don’t have a disability, your adult child may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits, if his or her disability was diagnosed before age 18.

If you need assistance in determining benefits eligibility for yourself or a family member, contact the law office of John R. Colvin to request your free consultation: (931) 962-1044.

Types of Mental Disability

The SSA defines nine types of mental disorders that may qualify as a disability:

  • Organic mental disorders (psychological or behavioral abnormalities associated with brain dysfunction)
  • Schizophrenic, paranoid, and other psychotic disorders (wherein the condition worsens over time)
  • Affective disorders (such as mood disturbances)
  • Intellectual disability (mental incapacity, or an IQ score of 59 or less)
  • Anxiety disorders (disruptive levels of panic or anxiety)
  • Somatoform disorders (often referred to as hypochondria)
  • Personality disorders (development of personality traits that are maladaptive)
  • Substance addiction (abuse of substances that affect the central nervous system; severity of addiction is measured by looking at whether physical damage has occurred, or whether other mental disorders have developed as a result of substance abuse)
  • Autistic disorder and developmental disorders (extreme deficits in social interaction, verbal communication and non-verbal communication)

The SSA looks at not only whether a person has a mental disability, but also assesses the extent to which that disability affects a person. For example, the SSA has specific guidelines for measuring whether an affective disorder – such as manic depression – meets the requirements for disability. It must meet several criteria to be considered disabling, such as:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Pervasive loss of interest in most activities
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia
  • Appetite disturbances
  • Marked difficulties maintaining social functioning.

To prove disability, a person must also provide medical documentation of their mental disorder and generally show that the condition is expected to last a year or longer. The SSA may also require results of personality tests, intelligence tests, statements from family members, friends, and employers, and other information that supports a claim of disability.

The symptoms associated with many mental disorders aren’t consistent over time – a person who suffers from manic depression may be able to function well for stretches of time, with manic or depressive episodes occurring periodically. To prevail on a claim of disability, that person would need to prove that these episodes, while intermittent, are frequent and disruptive enough to significantly interfere with one’s ability to work.

Intellectual Disability

Parents of children who have intellectual disabilities want to make sure their child continues to receive appropriate care upon reaching adulthood. Children with disabilities may qualify for Supplemental Security Income before reaching age 18, and they may continue to receive SSI as an adult. When a parent is collecting Social Security or SSDI, his or her adult child may be eligible for SSDI, as well.

If you are the parent of a dependent minor who has a disability, it’s important to make sure you have extensive documentation of your child’s condition. Applying for SSDI benefits for your adult child is generally easier if you are able to show that your child’s condition is expected to last for an indefinite amount of time.

SSDI payments can be used to help support an adult child – from paying for living expenses to covering the cost of a visiting home health provider, if necessary.

Difficulties of Applying for Mental Disability Benefits

Winchester Lawyer John ColvinSometimes, a person may recognize when his own mental disability – such as depression or substance addiction – has become disabling. Yet, the very nature of mental disability makes it extremely difficult to follow through on applying for disability benefits.

A person who has trouble getting out of bed in the morning, who can’t concentrate, or who is easily overwhelmed with feelings of sadness may be unable to collect and provide supporting documentation to show that they have a disability.  Furthermore, understanding the application process is a challenge under the best of circumstances. Some people who need SSDI never get benefits, because their disability interferes with their ability to apply.

If you or someone in your family is suffering from a disabling mental disorder, don’t lose hope – John R. Colvin has helped plenty of Tennessee Valley families apply for SSDI benefits. And if you’ve already applied but the SSA denied your claim, we may be able to help you with the appeal process. To request your no-obligation consultation, fill out our online form or call us today at (931) 962-1044.

Licensed to Practice in Tennessee & Alabama