Insurance law: Securing disability benefits for mental illnesses

Mental illnesses are not always well understood or even easy to recognize. This makes it hard for Washington residents who cannot work because of their mental health problems. When it comes to securing Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance, those living with mental illnesses often face an uphill battle against insurance law.

The Social Security Administration does recognize mental illnesses as legitimate reasons for being unable to work. It even maintains a list of illnesses that it considers to be inherently disabling, including schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder. Like with physical disabilities, someone suffering from a mental illness has to show that it prevents him or her from working. It is also necessary to show that the condition is very likely to last for a year or longer.

Proving a mental impairment is a lot harder than a physical disability. For one, the illness or impairment might make it difficult for someone to describe symptoms or stick with treatment. On top of that, many mental illnesses are cyclical, with symptoms worsening and slightly improving over and over again. Someone with this type of mental illness might be in a better part of that cycle during his or her assessment for disability benefits, which can reduce the chances of qualifying.

Just because mental illnesses cannot be as readily seen as physical disabilities does not mean they are not just as serious or debilitating. Unfortunately, insurance law and the SSA’s attitude toward mental illnesses is not the greatest. When securing those benefits is absolutely necessary people in Washington suffering from mental illnesses or impairments, it might be a good idea to talk with a knowledgeable attorney first.

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