Proving Disability for Mental Illness

Clients with mental impairments present challenging legal situations for disability claims.  However, there is a clear path to winning these cases. Once a clear diagnosis has been established, the key is proving functional impairment. The process is actually quite simple, and establishing functional impairment can mean the difference between winning and losing.

The first step is a diagnosis. Social Security law tracks the  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. The standards will be familiar to those who work with mentally impaired clients.  For example, to prove depression, you have to show at clinical signs – such as sleep disturbance, decreased energy, suicidal ideation, or appetite change. Similar findings are needed for other mental illnesses. Most cases also require documented functional impairment. If necessary, information should also be obtained from non-medical sources, such as family members and others, to supplement the record of impairment severity and longitude.