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illinois social security lawyerIf health issues have affected your ability to work, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. If your condition has lasted or will last for at least one year, and it has prevented you from earning a sufficient income, it may be considered a disability. However, during the process of applying for disability benefits, you will be required to provide extensive evidence demonstrating that your condition is severe enough to prevent you from working. Social Security will look at a number of issues during the application process, and one of these is your past relevant work and whether you are still able to perform these types of work.

Evaluating Past Relevant Work

As part of the five-step evaluation process used to determine eligibility for disability benefits, Social Security will look at whether you are currently able to perform past relevant work. To determine whether work you had previously done is relevant, Social Security will consider the following factors:

  • Was the work substantial and gainful? To be relevant, work you had done in the past must be considered substantial gainful activity (SGA). Social Security determines whether work meets this standard based on the amount of income earned, and the applicable SGA amounts are updated each year. For example, in 2010, Social Security defined SGA as $1,000 per month. If you worked during that year in a position where you earned at least that amount, your work may be relevant.


Chicago Social Security Disability AttorneyThere are multiple different types of health conditions that a person may experience that may affect their ability to provide for themselves. In addition to conditions that affect a person’s physical health and capabilities, a variety of mental conditions can impact a person’s ability to work. These include intellectual disabilities that place limitations on the types of work a person can perform. A person who suffers from a condition that is considered a disability may be able to apply for Social Security disability benefits. One issue that can play a role in these cases is a person’s ability to maintain the proper concentration, persistence, or pace while working.

Magistrate Overrules Denial of Benefits Based on Failure to Consider Concentration, Persistence, or Pace

One recent case that was addressed in Illinois courts illustrates how concentration issues may be considered when determining eligibility for Social Security disability benefits. In the case of David N. v. Commissioner of Social Security, the plaintiff appealed the denial of Social Security disability benefits by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), stating that the ALJ did not include limitations related to concentration, persistence, or pace when assessing the plaintiff’s residual functional capacity (RFC).

Based on medical records and evidence, the ALJ determined that the plaintiff had borderline intellectual functioning that resulted in moderate limitations on his ability to understand information, remember details, and apply this information to the work being performed. These moderate limitations also affected his ability to concentrate on work and maintain a consistent pace while working. However, even with these limitations, the ALJ determined that the plaintiff had the RFC to perform work at all levels of exertion while being limited to following simple instructions and carrying out routine tasks. Since the plaintiff would be able to find jobs where he could perform unskilled, light work that fits these limitations, the ALJ denied disability benefits.


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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