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Tennesseans with mental illnesses may qualify for SSDI benefits

When a Tennessee resident becomes ill or disabled, he or she may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI benefits are available for disorders such as cancer and heart disease, but they are also available for those suffering from certain mental illness.

In order for a Tennessean with a mental illness to qualify for SSDI benefits, he or she must establish that the illness prevents him or her from working. Some mental disorders that may qualify a person for benefits include autistic disorders, schizophrenia, and mental retardation, as well as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. There are also some disorders that are considered to be "inherently disabling" for which the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers that a person with such a condition is unable to work and therefore will qualify for benefits.

Documentation requirements can present challenges for those with mental illnesses, as they may have trouble documenting and describing their conditions due to the very nature of their illnesses. Furthermore, one problem that applicants for benefits often encounter is that it can be more difficult to assess mental disorders than it is to assess physical impairments. There are not many tests to evaluate how severe a person's mental impairment is. Therefore, sometimes the evaluation of a person's mental illness can be subjective, with SSA examiners using feedback from family members and friends, as well as information from physicians' records. For those applicants who do not have sufficient evidence to support their claims, federal regulations may necessitate a mental consultative exam conducted by an independent physician.

Due to the above stated extra complexities, many people with psychological disabilities may find the application process challenging. If you or a loved one has a mental illness, experienced legal counsel may be able to provide assistance to help a Tennessean with a mental illness obtain much-needed benefits.

Source: FindLaw, "Mental Health Disability Claims," accessed Feb. 26, 2016

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