Severe mental health issues are rampant in Americans. In 2016 alone, 10.3 million adults experienced crippling depression that limited their ability to work, as per the National Institute of Mental Health.
If you are an employed individual who’s been struggling with unstable mental health lately for a while now, you can receive SSDI or SSI benefits and are entitled to special protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, there’s a misconception that only people with severe chronic conditions can qualify as disabled since individuals suffering from depression and anxiety are often denied claims by Social Security.
This unfavorable occurrence stems from the difficulty of proving such mental health conditions, as they are primarily based on subjective evidence. Hence, hiring an experienced disability lawyer who will help you with your Social Security claims is crucial in this process.
That said, this article will present to you your rights as a mentally-impaired individual, and some advice to have your claims approved.
Mental Health Disability Rights
- Protection Under the Law – Under the ACA, you’re eligible for special protection whether your condition is severe or mild. Your employer can’t also discriminate against you due to your state.
- Reasonable Accommodations – You can request for flexible working hours, work-from-home days, and to be reassigned to a different boss. You should also be permitted to transfer to a workstation where there are fewer distractions.
- Extra Aid – If your company has an employee assistance program (EAP), ask if you can avail of some of its services, such as short-term counseling or any other service that might be helpful to you.
- Disability Insurance – Depending on the severity of your condition, you may be qualified for short-term disability insurance, in which the coverage lasts for a few months up to two years; or long-term disability insurance, in which the coverage stays valid as long as the condition exists. Inquire with your employer if you can file for these any one of these policies through an employer-sponsored plan.
- Compensation – If your job has caused you extreme stress or trauma, you can be entitled to a worker’s compensation, which will cover your medical expenses and loss of wages.
- Federal Aid – If your poor mental health already impedes you from working, you can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) through the help of a lawyer.
Qualifications for SSDI or SSI Benefits
The general qualifications for SSDI or SSI are as follows:
- You’ve worked for at least five years in the last ten years, and have made contributions to your Social Security through your paychecks.
- You’re unable to perform the job you had before your condition.
- You’re unable to perform other jobs due to your condition.
- Your condition is expected to last for at least a year.
If you’re a low-income earner or have a sporadic work history, you may qualify for SSI or Medicaid.
If you’ve already tried filing for claims and got denied, you may request a hearing before an administrative law judge. That will increase your likelihood of getting approved, as evidenced by the nearly six in ten applicants suffering from anxiety or mood disorders that won approval after their hearings. However, getting a hearing may take a long time, but you can use the lengthy waiting period to gather more substantial pieces of evidence of your mental health condition.
That is where you should also enlist an attorney’s help. Applicants with a legal representative have higher chances of finally being granted SSDI or SSI benefits. Furthermore, an attorney will identify the weaknesses in your claim and give you advice on how to strengthen them.
Note that filing for claims typically take a long time, but with a skilled lawyer, the process can be significantly shortened. It’s normal to be denied on your first attempt, so never give up, and know your rights.