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What is a medically determinable impairment?

Oftentimes mental illness is not treated in the same way as physical illness. The stigma associated with mental illness has subsided in recent years, but has not ceased to exist altogether. The fact is, a mental disability can be as crippling as, or worse, than a physical disability. If applying for benefits related to a mental illness disability, it is important to understand the process.

When applying for Social Security Disability benefits for mental conditions it is important to understand that the process is similar to applying for benefits related to a physical disability. There will be a lot of paperwork involved in the process and it will not be approved overnight. There are several medical and legal references in the process that need to be thoroughly understood in order to correctly answer the questions. One phrase that is crucial in understanding the process is “medically determinable impairment.”

This phrase is used intermittently throughout the process when applying for SSD benefits. A medically determinable impairment is a physical or mental impairment that results from anatomical, physiological or psychological abnormalities. The impairment must be documented medically and proven by science.

Proving a medically determinable impairment is the key to gaining access to SSD benefits. If you have medical records documenting the impairment it is typically much easier to be awarded benefits. Although personal testimony is helpful to the process, medical records will solidify your claim. Some applicants for SSD will need to apply more than once in order to receive the benefits they deserve.

Source: ssa.gov, “Disability Evaluation under Social Security,” Accessed Oct. 20, 2014