Mental Disorders


Mental Disorders

Major Depression, anxiety, mental retardation, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder are some of the most common mental illnesses. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, by 2020, major depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children.

Social Security Attorneys That Will Help You Win Your Appeal

Social Security has a listing of impairments which includes many mental health impairments. An individual’s mental impairment meets a listing by satisfying specific criteria as to symptom severity and duration. That listing is located at: 20 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1, Part A. Section 12.00 is the specific section dedicated to mental disorders. If the criteria for a specific listing are met, the individual is found disabled based on meeting the listing for the specific mental impairment, assuming he or she is otherwise asset eligible for SSI and/or credit-eligible for SSD. Essentially, if your medical condition matches one on the list, exactly as written, Social Security must find you disabled. Within Section 12.00, for mental impairments, there are various subsections that deal with varying issues of mental impairments. The most commonly used subpart is Section 12.04, which addresses affective disorders, including depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. Depression can form the basis of a finding of disabled under listing 12.04 if the listing’s criteria are met.

What is an affective disorder?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, affective disorder is defined as:

“Any of several mental disorders characterized by dramatic changes or extremes of mood. The major affective disorders include bipolar disorder—which may include manic and depressive episodes—and major depressive disorder…”

Social Security mirrors that definition stating that affective disorder is characterized by a disturbance of mood, accompanied by a full or partial manic or depressive syndrome. Mood refers to a prolonged emotion that colors the whole psychic life; it generally involves either depression or elation. In order to be found to meet this listing, a claimant must: 1. Have medically documented persistence, either continuous or intermittent, of one of the following:

  • Depressive syndrome characterized by at least four of the following:
    • – Anhedonia or pervasive loss of interest in almost all activities
    • – Appetite disturbance with change in weight
    • – Sleep disturbance
    • – Psychomotor agitation or retardation
    • – Decreased energy
    • – Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
    • – Difficulty concentrating or thinking
    • – Thoughts of suicide
    • – Hallucinations, delusions, or paranoid thinking
  • Manic syndrome characterized by at least three of the following:
    • – Hyperactivity
    • – Pressure of speech
    • – Flight of ideas
    • – Inflated self-esteem
    • – Decreased need for sleep
    • – Easy distractibility
    • – Involvement in activities that have a high probability of painful consequences which are not recognized
    • – Hallucinations, delusions or paranoid thinking
  • Bipolar syndrome with a history of episodic periods manifested by the full symptomatic picture of both manic and depressive syndromes (and currently characterized by either or both syndromes);

2. Once a claimant has satisfied one of the three categories above, they must also prove that what they are experiencing results in at least two of the following:

    • – Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or
    • – Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or
    • – Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or
    • – Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration

Also note that if your impairment does not match exactly to Social Security’s Listing of 12.04, you still may be found disabled pursuant to the listing by medically equaling a listing. If you would like to know more, or have questions about your social security disability claim, please contact the attorneys at the Kasunic Law Firm.