Law Office of Jennifer Zorrilla

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Can mental illnesses be considered disabilities?

It is a common misconception that disabilities only affect individuals’ physical conditions. In reality, however, a disability can be invisible to the naked eye. Millions of men and women in California and throughout the nation suffer from mental illnesses and disorders that are seriously disabling and life-altering.

The Social Security Administration recognizes a range of mental illnesses and disorders as potentially disabling. For example, depression and anxiety are identified as mental conditions that may result in a disability. Schizophrenia, personality disorders, bipolar disorders and other more specific conditions can also affect individuals to such degrees that they are unable to work and support their own needs.

A person’s assessment for a mental illness or disorder as a disability is similar to that of a person whose disability affects their physical condition. When they apply for disability benefits they may need to submit assessments and test results from their mental health professionals and other evidence that shows the severity and pervasiveness of their disability. Individuals who base their disability benefits applications on mental health conditions generally must be able to meet the definition of disability mandated by the Social Security Administration.

Individuals who deal with mental health conditions and illnesses face quiet battles that others may never know are going on. A mental disorder or illness may not wreck a person’s body, but it may destroy their ability to work with or around others, to follow directions or even leave their home to go to a work site. Mental illnesses affect people in different ways and for this reason an application for disability benefits based on a mental condition should be prepared with the needs and circumstances of the specific applicant in mind.

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