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Is it really a mental impairment?

Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits are available for persons with mental impairments. And similar to the process for obtaining benefits for physical impairment, an applicant must provide medical evidence to demonstrate the mental impairment. Unlike physical impairments, such as a heart condition or paraplegia, it may be more difficult to prove the existence of a medically determinable impairment when it is a mental impairment.

With mental impairments can be difficult to sometimes to even ascertain the nature of the ailment. Some may be obvious in their source, such as a servicemember returned from Afghanistan who may have been injured by an explosive device, and suffers traumatic brain injuries or PTSD. However, as a recent Boston Globe story relates, other times a condition that appears to be entirely psychological, could have at its source a physical component, blurring the lines between physical and mental impairment.

A doctor found that some women who exhibited symptoms of a “severe neurological impairment,” complete with seizures, hallucinations, paranoia, with some degenerating into unresponsiveness, and being placed on a breathing tube. Nothing seemed to help, and in desperation, he gave one woman drugs to suppress her immune system, and surprisingly she improved.

It is unknown how prevalent the condition, called “anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis,” may be, but it points to the difficulty in easily understanding or treating many mental conditions.

If you are suffering from a mental impairment and need to receive SSDI, you must provide medical evidence to SSA by symptoms, psychological tests or other signs of impairment.

Because of the complexity of describing this information, working with a SSDI attorney experienced with helping people apply for SSDI benefits for mental conditions is likely to speed up the process and ensure that mistakes in filing, such as missing documents or medical records, do not lead to your claim being denied.

Source: The Boston Globe, “When the brain is under attack,” Daniela J. Lamas, May 27, 2013