Mental Health Disorders

Massachusetts Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Law Firm

The Massachusetts social security disability lawyers at Kantrovitz & Associates believe that SSDI benefits were meant to aid individuals suffering from mental health disorders as well as other qualifying conditions. Our Boston office provides personal attention to clients undergoing the disability evaluation process. For over 25 years, we have successfully represented injured workers in counties including, but not limited to, Suffolk, Essex, Plymouth, Norfolk, and Middlesex, as well as in the Merrimack River area. Our attorneys advocate for SSDI applicants in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

Mental Disorders

Pursuant to the federal Social Security Act, disability benefits are available to individuals who cannot engage in “substantial gainful activity,” including work, for at least 1 year due to a mental health disorder. Massachusetts General Law c.151B § 4 makes it illegal to discriminate against any person who receives SSDI benefits or similar assistance. The Disability Evaluation Handbook lists various mental disorders that automatically qualify for benefits under certain criteria. Mental health impairments are covered in Section 12 of the “blue book,” and may involve:

  • Affective disorders
  • Paranoia, psychosis
  • Substance addiction
  • Personality disorders
  • Somatoform disorders
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Schizophrenic disorders
  • Developmental disorders
  • Anxiety-related impairments
  • Autism, cognitive impairments

Although no specific symptoms guarantee approval, listed mental impairments meeting certain criteria set forth in the manual are considered “disabilities,” including depression and bipolar disorders, and other pervasive developmental disabilities whose symptoms limit the claimant’s daily activities and ability to function. But diagnoses of severe mental illness and emotional symptoms are not always sufficient to guarantee compensation. The symptoms must also hinder routine tasks and social function to meet the required listings.

Showing Mental Impairment

Where a mental disorder does not meet the diagnostic description of the relevant listing, individuals may still be eligible for benefits if their impairment is “equivalent” in severity to the listed disorder, preventing gainful activity. The Administration will then determine whether the claimant retains some residual functional capacity to engage in such activity. In assessing a listed mental disorder or its equivalent, evaluators will look for documentation including:

  • Mental status examination in clinical interview
    • Standardized psychological and intelligence tests
  • Information from professional health care providers
    • Personality and neuropsychological evaluations
  • Accurate description by individual with mental disorder
    • Work attempts and termination, transitional employment
  • Medical evidence showing symptoms, signs, psychological findings
    • Abnormal behavior, mood, memory, perception, and other recognizable
  • disorders
  • Severity measured by functional limitations
    • Daily living, social activities, concentration, persistence, decompensation

Other types of evidence critical to evaluation include screening tests that determine level of functioning supplemented by other data. Evidence of repeated hospitalizations or prolonged outpatient care with therapy and medication is also useful to demonstrate psychotic disorders. Finally, evidence of brain disorders, including traumatic brain injury and memory or personality disorders, could meet the required level of severity or equivalence in finding a disability.

Recovering Compensation

If you suffer from a mental health disability that limits social or functional capacity for at least 1 year, the Massachusetts social security disability attorneys of Kantrovitz & Associates can help. We have over 25 years of experience recovering compensation for workers suffering from depression, schizophrenia, cognitive disabilities, and other disorders. We have successfully obtained substantial disability awards for individuals with varying degrees of impairment, from affective disorders to pervasive disabilities requiring electroshock therapy. Call (800) 367-0871 today for a free consultation or contact us online.