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How Does Mental Illness Affect Eligibility for Disability Benefits?

Posted on in Social Security Disability Medical Conditions

IL disabiity lawyerThere are a variety of conditions that can cause a person to become disabled, and some of them may be less obvious than others. While injuries or physical impairments can affect the type of work a person can perform, mental health concerns can also lead to disability. Unfortunately, those who suffer from mental illness may be denied Social Security Disability benefits, and they should understand their options for appealing these decisions.

Magistrate Overrules ALJ’s Decision Due to Incorrect Consideration of Mental Limitations

One recent Illinois case illustrates some of the reasons a person with a mental illness may be improperly denied disability benefits. In the case of Panayiota P. K. v. Commissioner of Social Security, the plaintiff was a 49-year-old woman who suffered from multiple mental impairments, including bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She reported difficulty with concentration, understanding and following instructions, and getting along with authority figures. She also experienced anxiety attacks multiple times per week, anger issues, and a voice in her head that told her to strike people who upset her.

At the plaintiff’s evidentiary hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) determined that the plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform work involving simple, routine tasks. A vocational expert (VE) testified that the plaintiff could work in light jobs such as a cleaner or production worker, but they noted that being off-task for at least 10% of the time would result in termination, and the plaintiff would likely also be terminated if she had any verbal or physical confrontations while at work. The ALJ denied disability benefits and stated that the plaintiff should be able to find work within her limitations.

The plaintiff appealed the ALJ’s decision, stating that the ALJ did not account for problems related to concentration, persistence, or pace when performing work. Upon review, the magistrate found that the ALJ’s assessment did not incorporate all of the plaintiff’s limitations. Based on previous cases, if an ALJ finds that a person has moderate limitations involving concentration, persistence, or pace, limiting them to simple, repetitive tasks does not adequately account for concentration problems due to mental health issues. Because of the failure to account for these issues, the judge reversed the denial of benefits, and the case was remanded for a rehearing and reconsideration.

Contact Our Illinois Social Security Disability Lawyer

If your disability claim has been denied, Pearson Disability Law, LLC can work with you to appeal the denial of benefits. We will fight to help you receive Social Security disability benefits that will allow you to meet your needs. Contact our Cook County disability appeals attorney by calling 312-999-0999 to set up a complimentary consultation.



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