Mental Disorders

Many of our clients have some form of mental impairment.  If this condition lasts a year or more you are more likely to be eligible for Disability benefits.  Combined with a physical impairment, mental impairments can interrupt your day to day life.  Things like depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, and anxiety can affect your ability to care for yourself, work, or even leave your home.  The Social Security Administration likes to see your mental health problems diagnosed and treated by a mental health professional.


Hi, my name is Andrew Kinney, and I’m an attorney at Hoglund Law offices. I practice exclusively in the area of Social Security disability and Supplemental Security Income law or SSI law. Today I wanted to talk about mental health problems and how Social Security reviews them, and whether you can be approved based on mental health problems.

Many people have some form of mental health issues, sometimes due to chronic pain, sometimes due to a genetic predisposition, and sometimes due to an event in their lives, but overall, for whatever the cause, Social Security looks to see if you are treating and getting help, and perhaps taking medications for the problem, for example, depression, bipolar disorder, either one or two, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, you may have agoraphobia as an element of that. Social Security also looks to see if there is an element of chemical dependency in any of those. I will talk a little bit of that now.

The big idea here to keep in mind is that Social Security looks at the mental health problems the same way they look at physical problems. It is just there is less objective evidence as for say a low back problem. A low back problem you can get an MRI, and you can see there is a herniated disk. But just because you can’t measure it with an imaging study doesn’t mean that depression isn’t just as disabling. The question is, how are you disabled with it? Some people work with depression, or bipolar, or anxiety disorder; some people can’t work. The question is severity, so keep in mind that it’s best to try to get better the best you can, and you can use your primary care doctor or get perhaps a psychiatrist. Use a psychologist to be able to get better. Take medications, but work with your doctor about side effects. Make sure that if you do have side effects that you talk to your doctor about perhaps switching medications. I’m a lawyer here, and I see some people stopping medications without talking to their doctor. So what is important for Social Security to know is that you are doing your best to get better.

With that in mind, Social Security reviews mental health issues, and I would include someone with low IQ in this, if you have mental health issues that affect your ability to work fulltime consider applying for Social Security benefits, especially if you have a good work history. The reason is this, at some juncture, mental health problems are disabling and what is the drawing line between when you are disabled and when you are not. It isn’t always so clear. Even if you are denied at the first level and even the second level, those state agency denials in my opinion are quite poor. Make sure if you know you can’t work, and you have legitimate diagnosed impairments, and you are doing the best to care for them, and taking your medications or having other people help you get your medications, make sure to get to a Social Security hearing.

If an attorney can help you, similar to what we do, the more the better, because if you don’t feel very well you may not be inclined to advocate on your own behalf. So keep these things in mind, and I’m glad that I can offer this video. Hopefully it impressed on you that if you are denied or don’t think that you can get approved for Social Security based on mental health problems then that is inaccurate. It is a question of degree, and the only way Social Security knows how bad they are is if you treat for them.

I mentioned chemical dependency, some people we see, particularly in my experience with anxiety disorder and bipolar, I see chemical dependency issues arise. With that in mind, Social Security will discount how bad your mental health issue is if they think the chemical dependency is exacerbating the mental illness. Another element I’ve learned as an attorney is that the psychologist experts at hearings will testify that your mental illness is worse because let’s say alcohol or drugs is reducing the effectiveness of your medication. So if you catch what I’m saying, it is definitely healthier to talk to your doctor about any dependency. What in particular you need to know is that Social Security will look at chemical dependency as perhaps a factor, very negatively in your claim, and it can, in the case of mental illness, cause Social Security to deny your claim.

So by all means, get the help that you need. I wrote a blog on chemical dependency at under the Social Security area to talk about these issues in more detail. If you have questions about mental conditions in general feel free to go to We have done our best to explain impairments, and explain what you need to do. If you would like our help, we don’t charge unless you are approved. We help people apply, and we help people appeal. Keep in mind we want to help, but certainly you need to shop and know that you are getting people you can trust and know what they are doing. Feel free to call us if you wish at 1-800-850-7867. Thank you.