Many people suffer from a wide array of Mental Health impairments that could create an inability to maintain employment. This blog will focus on how the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines if you are disabled due to a mental health impairment.
At any level, the SSA must complete a mental residual functional capacity (RFC) based upon the degree of limitation of functioning you might have in various areas. All areas are rated on a 5 point scale: no limits, mild limits, moderate limits, marked limits, and extreme limits. The objective of the mental RFC is to produce an assessment where the decision maker can determine whether you can perform skilled, semiskilled, unskilled, or no work at all. The most important aspect of a mental RFC is usually determining whether someone with a mental impairment is still capable of performing unskilled work. A claimant must be incapable of performing any work to be disabled for mental impairment reasons alone, inability to perform past work is not as relevant.
The SSA evaluates one’s ability to understand, remember, and apply information. This refers to abilities to learn, recall, and use information to perform work activities. Examples include understanding and learning instructions, following 1 to 2 step tasks, using judgement to make work-related decision among others.
The SSA also evaluates one’s ability to interact with others. This refers to how one relates to supervisors, coworkers, and the public. Examples include cooperating with others, handling criticism, understand social cues among others.
The SSA also evaluates one’s ability to concentrate, persist, or maintain pace. This area refers to the ability to focus attention on work activities and stay on task at a sustained rate. Examples include working at an appropriate and consistent pace, completing tasks in a timely manner, ignoring or avoiding distractions while working among others.
The SSA finally evaluates one’s ability to adapt or manage oneself. This refers to abilities to regulate emotions, control behavior, and maintain well-being in a work setting. Examples include responding to demands, managing psychologically based symptoms, maintain personal hygiene and attire appropriate to the work setting among others.
No matter the mental impairment, if it causes some work-related limitations then the SSA must use these areas to evaluate how much of a functional limitation the impairment causes. Many people who apply for Social Security due to mental health problems will be turned down. It is important to have an experienced Social Security Disability Attorney to help guide you through the process, make sure all relevant and important information is submitted, and provide logical arguments in support of you being found Disabled.
Matthew C. Garner