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IL disability lawyerThere are many different types of health conditions that may allow a person to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. While physical illnesses and injuries are the most common reasons that a person may need disability benefits, mental health issues can also drastically affect a person’s ability to perform work and maintain employment. Those who suffer from disabling mental health conditions will need to understand the requirements they will need to meet to be considered disabled and receive benefits through Social Security.

Mental Disorders Recognized by Social Security

The Social Security Administration uses a “listing of impairments” that details different types of conditions that are considered to be disabilities. Mental disorders are one category that is included in this listing, and there are multiple different types of mental health issues that are recognized, including:

  • Neurocognitive disorders - Certain diseases or conditions may affect a person’s cognitive abilities, leading to memory loss, problems with regulation of attention, impaired ability to make decisions, problems with visual and spatial processing, difficulties with speech and language, impairment affecting judgment, and inability to follow social standards. Conditions in this category include Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Psychotic disorders - Some mental health conditions may cause a person to experience hallucinations, delusions, catatonic behavior, and a decline in mental functioning. These may include schizophrenia, delusional disorder, and psychotic disorders caused by another medical condition.
  • Depressive and bipolar disorders - People who experience these types of mood disorders may have difficulty regulating their emotions, including irritability, elevated moods, depression, or loss of interest in regular activities. A person may also experience feelings of guilt and hopelessness, disturbances in sleep patterns, changes in appetite leading to weight gain or weight loss, problems with concentration, social withdrawal, and poor impulse control.
  • Intellectual disorders - A person may have intellectual functions that are below average, affecting their ability to adapt to situations and maintain adequate social skills and practical functions.
  • Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders - These conditions may involve excessive worries and fears that cause a person to avoid certain people, locations, situations, or activities. A person may also experience problems with concentration, sleep disturbances, panic attacks, and fatigue.
  • Personality disorders - Some mental disorders may affect a person’s ability to adapt to situations and respond appropriately to others. A person may experience suspiciousness, distrust, strange beliefs, social detachment, hypersensitivity to criticism, difficulty making decisions on their own, perfectionism, excessive and inappropriate anger, and a need to be taken care of by others.
  • Autism - Disorders that are included in the autism spectrum can vary in severity, but they often involve difficulties with social interaction, problems with communication, repetitive behavior, and difficulty developing or acquiring new skills.
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders - These disorders usually affect a person during childhood or adolescence, and they often involve learning deficits and problems with attention and impulse control. Tic disorders such as Tourette syndrome are included in this category.
  • Eating disorders - Conditions such as anorexia or bulimia may involve a preoccupation with body weight and shape, and they can lead to physical problems and mood disturbances.
  • Trauma-related disorders - Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other conditions that occur after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event may lead to flashbacks, distressing memories, avoidance of similar situations, inability to experience positive emotions, and withdrawal from regular activities.

Contact Our Chicago Social Security Disability Attorney for Mental Conditions

If you have experienced mental health issues that have affected your ability to work, Pearson Disability Law, LLC can help you demonstrate that you are eligible to receive disability benefits. To learn how we can help with your application for benefits or the denial of a disability claim, contact our Illinois Social Security disability lawyer at 312-999-0999 and arrange a free consultation today.

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IL disability lawyerTo receive Social Security disability benefits, you will not only need to show that your physical or mental conditions have caused you to be unable to work in jobs you have previously done, but you will also need to demonstrate that you are unable to find gainful employment in positions that are available in the United States economy. In many cases, Social Security disability claims are denied because a vocational expert (VE) testifies that a person should be able to work in certain jobs that fit their physical or mental limitations. However, these denials may be made based on an improper consideration of the complexity of the work a person is able to perform.

Magistrate Overrules Denial of Benefits Based on Limitations Regarding One-to-Two Step Tasks

One recent case in Illinois courts addressed work limitations and the improper denial of benefits. In the case of Michael S. v. Commissioner of Social Security, the plaintiff had applied for Social Security disability benefits based on cognitive impairments such as memory loss, attention deficit disorder, and depression. After disability benefits were denied, the plaintiff appealed this decision, and the court ruled in his favor and remanded the case to the Commissioner of Social Security for reconsideration. After considering new evidence, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) again denied benefits, and the plaintiff appealed this decision as well.

The key issue in this appeal involved the opinions of two state agency psychologists stating that the plaintiff should be limited to one-to-two step tasks while at work. Based on the testimony of a medical expert, the ALJ rejected this limitation and found that the plaintiff could perform light work while being limited to tasks that involved simple decision-making.

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IL disability attorneyWhen a person makes a Social Security disability claim, the decision about whether to award benefits will usually depend on the medical examinations they receive, as well as evaluations that are meant to determine whether they have the ability to work. In these cases, the opinions of a person’s regular doctor, who is known as a “treating source physician,” are given a great deal of weight. This is because a treating physician will have established a relationship with the patient that gives them a better understanding of their physical condition and their capabilities to perform work. However, in some cases, disability claims are improperly denied because Social Security does not properly consider the opinions of a treating source physician.

Appeals Court Vacates Denial of Benefits Based on Failure to Give Weight to Treating Physician’s Opinion

One recent case in Illinois demonstrates how Social Security may deny benefits without properly considering the opinions of a treating source physician. In Hargett v. Commissioner of Social Security, the United States Court of Appeals considered a situation in which an applicant had been denied benefits by an administrative law judge (ALJ), and this decision was upheld by a federal magistrate judge.

The plaintiff applied for disability benefits based on a number of impairments, including type 2 diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, curvature of the spine, and high blood pressure. He had been receiving treatment from his primary care physician, who referred him to a physical therapist for a functional capacity evaluation (FCE). This evaluation found that while he had the lifting capacity to perform “medium-strength” work, he was unable to stand for more than five minutes, could not walk for more than a tenth of a mile, could not balance well while walking or standing, and could not crouch or stoop. The primary care physician signed off on the results of this evaluation.

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