Mental Disorders

Mental Disorder Evaluation

The Social Security Administration uses a few techniques in evaluating mental disorders. There might be a question of only meeting one or two of the criteria that are required to be deemed to have a mental disorder.

Those who meet only the B or C criteria and not the A aspect would need to undergo further questioning in some instances. The A criteria are examples if some of the common mental disorders that are presented. These are the disorders that would prevent someone from being employed. If the person doesn’t meet the A criteria, there are paragraphs that need to be read and understood in criteria B and C to determine eligibility. If the person meets the other criteria, then there is a possibility of that person still being declared mentally disabled.

If there are only minimal factors in regards to a mental disorder, then a functional capacity test must be done in order to determine if the person is disabled or not. The SSA will ask questions and perform assessments to determine if the person can do any kind of skilled or unskilled work. Those who are not able to perform work in an unskilled environment will often receive disability benefits.

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Two Pathways to Prove That you Are Disabled

How to prove you are disabled

When you go to the Social Security Administration to apply for disability, there are usually two pathways to go through to determine whether you qualify for disability or not. Before going to the judge, you should learn more about the two different pathways ahead of time with your lawyer’s assistance.

First pathway

Medical findings

1). You are not engaging in any type of work or receiving a substantial amount of income.
2). You have a severe medical disability that strongly affects your functionality.
3). Your impairment will last as long as 12 months or can result in death.
4). Your medical records show that you meet any of the existing qualifications that are listed in social security’s listing of impairments.

Second pathway

Functional limitations on work activity

1). You are not engaging in substantial work activity or not receiving a significant amount of income.
2). You have a severe medical impairment that affects your ability to work and/or function on a daily basis. ask tiava
3). Your current impairment will last 12 months or more or will result in death.
4). You are unable to do any type of work that you have done in the last 15 years or so.

If you have any of these then the Social Security Administration will consider you to be disabled.

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Good Days, Bad Days & Details

Sometimes a potential problem for the testimony comes up when you will have good days and you will have bad days. On good days you might be able to easily sit down, stand up or walk around for longer than you can on those bad days. If you’ve had some good days and some bad days, be sure that you describe what it is like on the good day and what pain your are feeling on the bad days. The judge might ask you to estimate how many days out of every month are the good days and how many days of the month are bad. Many people answer these questions like, “Ummm, I never really counted them before.” Make certain that you stop and count them. The judge will definitely need that information.

Details. Details. More Details. The more specific you can be about the details, the easier it will be for the judge to better understand your testimony concerning your limitations and your symptoms.

To provide good testimony concerning your limitations, you must know yourself, know all of your limitations, and do not exaggerate or minimize them. Perhaps you can discuss your limitations with friends and with your attorney before the hearing.

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Good Cause for Late Appeals

Late appeals are not usually accepted by the Social Security Administration. However, the Social Security Administration may allow a late appeal if the claimant can show good cause in missing the deadline. Additionally, a late appeal can sometimes serve as a protective filing for a new application. Some examples of good cause include the following:

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Claimant Did Not Receive Notice of the Determination

This is one example of good cause. However, to prevail with this argument, the claimant must actually show that he or she did not receive notice of the determination within five days as required by law. This may be because the Social Security Administration used the wrong address or the claimant moved.

Serious Illness

Another potential good cause argument is if the claimant was seriously ill. However, this requires the claimant to be so ill that he or she was unable to communicate to the Social Security Administration through writing or by reference from a friend, relative or other agent.

Loss of Records

If the claimant lost important records because of a fire or other accident, this can be grounds for good cause.

Incomplete Information

The Social Security Administration is required to provide the claimant with information about how he or she can effectuate an appeal.

Confusion of Information

Another possibility is that the claimant did not understand the information provided by the Social Security Administration.

Belief of Filing

If the claimant missed the deadline because he or she believed in good faith that his or her legal representative had filed an appeal, this situation can justify good cause and an acceptance of a late filing.

Death or Serious Illness

If an immediate family member of the defendant suffered from a serious illness or died during the time frame in which an appeal was supposed to be filed, this can constitute good cause.

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Testimony Regarding Shortness of Breath

During a disability hearing, it is the claimant’s job to clearly articulate his or her impairments, symptoms and limitations. One symptom that claimants may discuss in detail is shortness of breath.

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The administrative law judge may ask about what brings on the claimant’s shortness of breath. He or she may surmise that it is due to a breathing condition, such as asthma. However, shortness of breath may also be caused by chest pain, lung congestion, allergies or hyperventilation. Sometimes it is caused by weather changes. It may also be attributed to a non-medical factor such as activities conducted by the claimant, such as lying down, speaking or exertion. In some cases, it is a symptom of an emotional trigger, such as a panic attack or stress.

Effect on Work

The administrative law judge will be most interested in knowing how shortness of breath affects your ability to work. Discuss how many days you had to miss work because of your breathing problems. Additionally, mention if shortness of breath required you to take extra breaks and how often these breaks would occur.

Description of Symptoms

Provide details about your shortness of breath, such as how you feel when you experience it. If you have to make adjustments while you sleep, provide these details to the judge. Talk about daily activities and how shortness of breath affects these, such as having to limit the number of steps that you can walk at one time or the pace at which you must walk before you need to stop.

Connection with Other Symptoms

Often, shortness of breath is only one symptom that is part of a series of symptoms. Discuss similar symptoms, such as wheezing and acute episodes of breathing problems. Also, mention any interaction with other conditions, such as having lung infections.

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What To Expect at a Social Security Hearing

Seeking information on a Social Security hearing can be frustrating because not much written content exists on it. What one can expect is that an Administrative Law Judge will preside over the hearing and make inquiries of the claimant and any witnesses. The hearing is also the time to introduce written documentation to the case.

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How the Law Judge Handles Hearings

The law judge will set a schedule for the hearing. This means he (or she) will dictate when witnesses will be questioned, when evidence can be entered unto the record and how long the hearing will take. Each individual judge can run the hearings as they see fit. This means that in one case the hearing may allow everyone in the hearing room at the same time, and in another case witnesses may be asked to wait until called.

Attorney vs No Attorney

The Law Judge can also alter how the hearing proceeds based on whether or not the claimant is represented by an attorney. When the claimant does not have an attorney with them the law judge will refrain from technical terms and may conduct the hearing in a more laid back manner.

Set Manual Standards

One thing for sure is that each hearing will have some aspects that are similar to all others. The law judge does have the standards as set forth by the Social Security Administration manual to follow. Witnesses will be called with evidence in the form of both written and verbal formats offered into the record.

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Frequent Concerns Regarding Disability Hearings and Outcomes

How Do Claimants Know They’ve Been Assigned A Court Date?

Protocol dictates the Judge in charge of the proceeding have their assistant contact the claimant’s attorney to schedule a date. It’s up to the attorney to send an official letter to the claimant. The last thing the claimant should receive is a ‘Notice of Hearing’ from the judge assigned to the case. Should a claimant get a judicial notice before they receive a note from their attorney, it usually means someone failed to notify the claimant’s attorney. The claimant should rectify this at once.

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How Soon After The Hearing Can A Claimant Expect A Decision?

Many claimants experience a delay of a few months. National statistics suggest the time lapse between a claimant’s hearing and their decision can take up to a year, or longer, with some states moving more quickly, while others actually take longer.

The exception is the bench decision. When a claimant’s counsel offers overwhelming proof of the claimant’s case the judge avails himself of the ability afforded by the law in such cases to announce a positive decision from the bench. Official documentation of the decision follows within a few days.

How Soon After A Positive Decision Can A Claimant Anticipate Benefits?

New benefits should appear soon after a rendered decision. Many claimants receive current distributions within 60 days of their positive outcome. Claimants can anticipate up to half a year, or more, before receiving their retroactive benefits.

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Stressful Situations at the Workplace

If you are experiencing any of these difficulties, you might be asked if you are capable of doing the following:

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– Remember, follow, and understand instructions.
– Use judgment.
– Interact with co-workers, supervisors, and typical work conditions.
– Able to function with normal work environment changes.

You might be asked about your how you handle stress. Stressful situations are unique to each individual. If a judge asks about your ability to handle stress, let the judge know what sort of things you consider stressful especially at the workplace.

At times claimants may not know exactly what stresses them out at work. The following is a list of some things people consider stressful at the workplace:

– Having to meet a deadline.
– Finishing tasks.
– Dealing with others and the public.
– Having to work at a fast pace.
– Needing to work carefully.
– Working on challenging tasks.
– Having to make a decision.
– Operating on a schedule.
– Having to deal with a supervisor.
– Receiving criticism from a supervisor.
– Working under supervision.
– Working a monotonous routine.
– Making it to work on time regularly.
– Staying at work the entire day.
– Worrying about failing on the job.

At times people find repetitive, routine work stressful because it is monotonous and offers very little opportunities for growth, decision making, under utilizes their skill set, lacks job collaboration, and lacks a meaningful purpose. Speak with a lawyer if there is anything stressful about your current workplace.

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What are your Daily Activities?

Judges typically want to know what you normally do everyday. They want to find out if your limitations and symptoms are consistent with your daily activities.

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If you do not give very many details, the following are examples of what could happen:

If the judge asks about your daily activities and the claimant answers nothing, that is a poor answer. During the day, no matter what people do something, even if it is as simple as watching the television all day.

If the judge asks about your daily activities and the claimant just answers that they generally clean up the house, cook, do the laundry, and go to the store, this is also not the best answer. While this is an honest answer it does not include important details like the claimant can only stand for a few minutes at a time and can only make simple meals because of a disability.

It is a good idea to give the judge details of your day hour by hour. Talk about how any activities have changed because of health issues.

Be sure to talk about how long it takes you to accomplish a task and how long you must rest when it is completed. Explain if you rest in a chair, bed, or a couch. Talk about what you can complete on your own and when you need help from others.

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