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Establishing the existence of mental disorders for SSD benefits


Some New Jersey residents may know people who suffer from mental illness and are not able to work or support themselves. These individuals may be severely depressed or suffer from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Afflicted persons have certain rights under the law to claim Disability Coverage for Mental Health Issues.

An afflicted person has to provide proof that a medically determinable impairment exists or will continue to exist for the required duration. This affliction should be proven with the help of medical evidence of symptoms, signs, psychological test findings and other laboratory findings.

While the person can describe the symptoms of the mental or physical impairment, psychiatric signs can be determined medically to show that the person is suffering from abnormalities of behavior, development, orientation, thought, mood, perception or other specific psychological problems. The symptoms and the signs together can show if the person suffers from a mental illness disability. However, the symptoms and signs of the mental disorder can be continuous or intermittent, depending on the disorder.

The severity of the mental disorder can be assessed by determining the functional limitations imposed by the impairment. To assess this, the person's daily activities, social interaction, persistence or concentration and episodes of the disorder are evaluated. Some of the required functions are initiating and participating in regular activities including cooking, cleaning, taking daily transport, maintaining a house, taking care of hygiene and using the post office.

A person must show that the person can interact independently and appropriately with other people and can maintain concentration and attention to complete a task. Temporary increases in symptoms or signs are assessed and whether these episodes require increased treatment or a less stressful situation.

All the relevant documentation, including medical evidence, psychological testing, intelligence tests, attempts made to work and results of other tests are considered to evaluate Social Security Disability claims. Hence it is necessary that the required documentation is included with submission of an application for Social Security Disability benefits.

Source: Social Security Administration, "12.00 Mental Disorders," Accessed on Nov. 27, 2014

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