33 N. Dearborn Street, Suite 1130, Chicago, IL 60602

5 Convenient Locations

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Youtube


call us312-999-0999fax312-999-8999

Seeking Disability Benefits for PTSD, Depression, and Related Mental Disorders

 Posted on June 28, 2016 in Social Security Disability Medical Conditions

Chicago Social Security Disability Benefits AttorneyMental disorders often present special challenges for individuals seeking Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Social Security officials often downplay the functional limitations of individuals suffering from conditions like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Yet Social Security’s own guidelines expressly require officials to take a number of factors into consideration when assessing an applicant’s ability to work with a mental disorder. These factors include limits on the applicant’s “social functioning” as well as his or her “concentration, persistence, or pace” and the “ability to tolerate increased mental demands associated with competitive work.”

Social Security Ignores Evidence of Vietnam Vet’s Mental Concentration Problems

Here is a recent Illinois case that illustrates how Social Security can fail to follow its own guidelines. The applicant in this case was a 59-year-old Vietnam War veteran who was diagnosed with PTSD and severe depression. In addition to suffering from anxiety attacks and problems controlling his anger, the applicant said testified before Social Security that “he had trouble concentrating and as a result he had difficulty looking long-term and constructing the future in his mind.” As a result of his mental disorders, the applicant said “he could no longer cope with changes and difficulties in the workplace.”

Social Security disagreed. An administrative law judge (ALJ) rejected the applicant’s claim for disability benefits, citing a mental residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment prepared by a state agency doctor. The RFC said that although the applicant had “moderate limitations in his activities of daily living, maintaining social functioning, and maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace,” he could nonetheless still perform “simple, repetitive, routine work with few changes that are easily explained.”

But on appeal, a federal magistrate said the ALJ failed to consider all of the evidence related to the applicant’s mental disorders. Specifically, despite clear evidence that the applicant suffers from a “concentration deficit,” the magistrate said the ALJ “did not include any limitations that account for a deficit in concentration, persistence, or pace within his RFC assessment.” That is to say, the ALJ failed to properly incorporate the applicant’s concentration problems when asking the agency’s experts to assess the applicant’s suitability for future work. In effect, the ALJ acknowledged the applicant had a serious mental disorder and then simply ignored this fact. Consequently, the magistrate said the applicant was entitled to a new hearing on his disability claim.

An Illinois Social Security Disability Attorney Can Help

It is not uncommon for Social Security disability applicants to fail on their first attempt with the agency. But as the case above illustrates, Social Security’s first answer is not always their final answer. If you suffer from a serious mental disorder and are unable to work as a result, you should speak with a Chicago disability benefits lawyer who can assist you in dealing with Social Security and the courts. Contact Pearson Disability Law, LLC, if you need to speak with someone about your Social Security case right away.




Share this post:

You are not alone. Call now for a FREE consultation 312-999-0999

Unable to travel to my office? No problem! No office visit required.

dupage county bar association Chicago abr association nosscr Super Lawyer
Back to Top