When you are applying for Social Security disability (SSD) for mental health reasons, it may make the process more challenging. That’s because disabilities considered “invisible conditions” don’t typically have outwardly visible physical symptoms. Unlike someone who’s blind, severely arthritic or lost a limb, outsiders can’t see signs of living with mental health issues. Therefore, the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires substantial evidence that a person does, in fact, have them. Plus, that claimant must be disabled enough to need Social Security disability benefits. In other words, those who cannot work full-time to support themselves financially. This is why meeting the agency’s Mental Residual Functional Capacity assessment criteria is crucial to secure those payments.
Conditions That Frequently Meet Disability Claim Requirements
In order to get Social Security disability benefits, you must prove your issues will last for at least one year or until death. What’s more, you must also show your condition’s symptoms prevent you from working any full-time job to support yourself.
Common mental health conditions approved for disability payments include:
- Bipolar disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
If you have a condition on the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances List (CAL), then the agency automatically counts it as a disability. However, if your issue isn’t on the CAL list, you must still give solid evidence supporting your SSD claim. Want the best piece of proof you can submit for your claim? Complete a mental residual functional capacity (RFC) form. (You can download a blank version of the mental RFC form here.)
What is a Mental Residual Functional Capacity Form?
Your mental residual functional capacity form documents what sort of work activities you can currently do. It documents which tasks you’re capable of doing regularly, despite your mental health-related treatments (i.e., taking antidepressants or attending therapy sessions). The SSA reviews your mental residual functional capacity to determine whether you can perform current or former job tasks or any other, similar kind of work.
In determining your mental residual functional capacity, the SSA looks at both medical and non-medical evidence. For medical issues, the agency reviews your condition’s history, test results, diagnoses, treatments, responses, symptoms, and current prognosis. For non-medical issues, the SSA reads reports submitted by people who know you and your condition well, including how it affects your daily life.
The mental residual functional capacity assessment helps the SSA determine if you are able to:
- Complete tasks on a schedule
- Understand, remember and complete instructions
- Concentrate and pay attention for long periods of time (i.e., an 8-hour workday)
- Make simple judgment calls and decisions
- Interact in an appropriate way with others
- Maintain regular, on-time job attendance
- Tolerate normal amounts of stress
- Keep up a regular routine without supervision
- Get along with coworkers without being a distraction
- Respond well and adapt to work setting changes as needed
- Stay clean and neat
- Accept feedback appropriately
How Your Mental Residual Functional Capacity Assessment Impacts Your SSD Claim Review
After reviewing your mental residual functional capacity form, the SSA will declare you are one of the following:
- Not significantly limited
- Moderately limited
- Markedly limited
- That there is insufficient evidence to make a decision about your Social Security disability case
You may qualify for disability benefits if you’re markedly limited in certain areas. That would be because you cannot perform even simple job tasks requiring little to no skill. If the SSA finds you moderately limited, the agency will look for any unskilled jobs you can work in. This remains true even if it’s something you haven’t done before during your job history. If you are mentally capable of doing one of these jobs, the SSA may deny your SSD claim.
The SSA may also include episodes of decompensation. Decompensation is what they call times when your symptoms get worse and you need more treatment, or to be in a less stressful situation. The SSA will see how many times this happens to you, and how long your episodes last.
Consider Getting Professional Legal Advice
Since getting Social Security disability for a mental condition can be especially challenging, you might benefit from speaking to a Social Security attorney for free. An experienced professional can give you the best advice on how to apply for Social Security disability benefits. What’s more, having a disability lawyer file your paperwork nearly triples your SSD approval chances. Since every attorney in our network helps people on contingency, you’ll pay $0 if the SSA doesn’t award you benefits. And if you do in, you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now!
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.