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Components of an SSA assessment for mental disorders

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2021 | Social Security Disability

Missouri residents who experience significant trauma often carry scars. Although physical wounds have long since healed, the psychological pain continues. Social Security Disability Insurance may help those who can no longer work due to mental impairments.

The Social Security Administration lists qualifying mental disorders in 11 categories. Mental disorders often occur after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. The emotional turmoil in the aftermath of these events can become debilitating. The evaluation process encompasses three areas.

Medical criteria

Catastrophic accidents and tragic events often impact a person’s ability to function. PTSD and other similar conditions may result from these events. Symptoms often include the following:

  • Inability to experience positive emotions
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Flashbacks
  • Lack of or diminished interest in participating in significant activities
  • Disturbed sleep/nightmares
  • Persistent negative emotional states, such as fear and anger

Many of these symptoms are a natural response to trauma and fade within a few weeks of the event. However, if they persist and worsen, it might indicate a disorder.

Functional criteria

SSA caseworkers use approved guidelines and a rating scale when assessing the degree of functional limits. Areas measured cover various aspects of daily life such as the ability to understand, remember and manage themselves. Assessments also look at a person’s ability to concentrate and interact with others.

Serious and persistent history

The evaluation includes evidence from medical and nonmedical sources when assessing the severity of a mental disorder. Caseworkers consider how it affects functional abilities at work and home. They review medical history and reports covering the last two years. Assessments also include IQ test scores and clinical observations.

The approval process for SSD is often time-consuming and complex. Understanding the eligibility requirements and meeting all documentation deadlines is crucial. Once approved it may help cover medical costs associated with the disorder.