Four types of evidence used by the Social Security Administration in evaluating psychological disorders

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Four types of evidence used by the Social Security Administration in evaluating psychological disorders

If you suffer from a debilitating psychological condition such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or other mental illness, you may be eligible for disability benefits.  

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has an extensive list of these disorders.  In general, these disorders must meet two out of three areas of requirements: a) medical evidence indicating that your condition meets certain medical criteria and b) functional criteria assessment as set forth by the SSA, and C) criteria used to evaluate severe and persistent mental disorders.  Category A and either category B or C must be fulfilled in order for you to be characterized as having a certain condition.

Determining your disorder requires evidence of many kinds from many sources.  Here we will examine an incomplete list of several of the primary categories such evidence includes.

What evidence does the SSA require to evaluate a disorder?

psychological disorders disability lawyer The first type of evidence includes objective evidence from a credible medical source.  It must be evident that you have a mental disorder with a specific medical definition.  Evidence supporting the severity of the condition and the extent to which it impairs your ability to function in a work setting will also be needed.  The exact type of evidence needed is determined on a case-to-case basis and is not set in stone.  The full details of evidence requirements can be found on the SSA’s website under “disability evaluation under social security”, through the link provided above.  The document is rather lengthy.  This summary only highlights several key parts.  

The second type of evidence comes from medical sources.  While this sounds similar to the first item, it includes a broader range of information.  All relevant sources are included, such as your physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, nurses, clinical social workers, and the like.  

The third type of evidence comes from yourself and people who know you.  The SSA will evaluate anything relevant to your disorder and daily functioning that comes from those close to you.  They may ask about your treatment, symptoms, or daily functioning.  They may ask for additional information from third parties, but will not do so without express permission from you.  This could include family members, neighbors, caregivers, friends, religious workers, social workers, or any other kind of community workers.  The SSA will be looking to see whether or not the information provided by these individuals aligns with the information provided by yourself and your medical healthcare professionals.

The fourth type of evidence comes from education and work-related sources.  If you have received or are still receiving special education services, information may be obtained from such sources in order to assess your daily functionality.  Such evidence could include Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), Section 504 plans, school therapy notes, information from teachers, or information about any accommodations you receive at school.  This category may also include vocational training.

If you have any questions regarding mental illness as it relates to disability law, contact our office today.