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Kobal Law

SSD Benefits For Mental Disabilities


These are stressful times. The mental stress, like the physical stress, is too much for many people to overcome. In fact, almost fifty-three million Americans suffer from a diagnosed mental illness. Frequently, this mental illness is debilitating. Basically, if the mental illness is one of the conditions listed below, or a substantially similar condition, and the illness prevents employment, Social Security Disability benefits may be available.

Some things change. For many people, our stress levels are higher than ever before. But some things remain the same. The initial DDS (disability determination services) denial rate is still extremely high. An initial denial, especially for a mental disability, doesn’t mean your claim is meritless or weak. Instead, an initial denial is your opportunity to partner with a Tampa Social Security disability lawyer and obtain the benefits you need and deserve.


If medical records clearly show the applicant regularly suffers from hallucinations or delusions, cannot organize his/her thoughts, and/or is often in a near-catatonic state, SSD benefits may be available. Additionally, the applicant must prove the disability is “serious and persistent” or restricts at least one everyday activity, such as grooming, focusing on a task, or interacting socially.

Medication may be available that treats some or all of these symptoms. Just because medication is available doesn’t mean the applicant is capable of taking it. Some drugs are too expensive while others have bad side-effects.


Initially, there’s a difference between situational depression and clinical depression, even though they have basically the same symptoms. Situational depression almost never lasts more than a year, which is a key SSD requirement.

In terms of these symptoms, the applicant must produce medical evidence that shows at least five of the following:

  • Depressed mood,
  • Diminished interest in almost all activities,
  • Appetite disturbance with change in weight,
  • Sleep disturbance,
  • Observable psychomotor agitation or retardation,
  • Decreased energy,
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness,
  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking, or
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

The aforementioned “serious and persistent” rule could apply as well. Generally, a condition is serious and persistent if it is expected to last at least two years, current medication or other therapy isn’t helping, and lifestyle adjustments haven’t helped either.

Anxiety-Related Conditions

The symptom list for anxiety is basically identical to the depression symptom list. However, the anxiety list is shorter, and applicants must only suffer from three items on the list. A Tampa disability lawyer can also obtain SSD benefits for panic disorders, phobias, and obsessive compulsive disorder, provided the applicant shows certain symptoms and these symptoms are disabling.

These same basic rules apply to sleep disorders, impulse control disorders, autism, and eating disorders.

Trauma Conditions and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post traumatic stress is common and rarely disabling. It also rarely lasts more than a year. Post traumatic stress disorder is uncommon and often debilitating. Like other brain injuries, PTSD is permanent.

It’s a little harder to qualify for PTSD benefits. Applicants must show medical impairment in all the following areas, not just some of them:

  • Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or violence,
  • Subsequent involuntary re-experiencing of the traumatic event (for example, intrusive memories, dreams, or flashbacks),
  • Avoidance of external reminders of the event,
  • Disturbance in mood and behavior, and
  • Increases in arousal and reactivity (for example, exaggerated startle response, sleep disturbance).

Additionally, these applicants must show their condition is serious and persistent or their PTSD severely limits their daily activities.

 Reach Out to a Compassionate Hillsborough County Attorney

Injury victims are entitled to important financial benefits. For a free consultation with an experienced disability lawyer in Tampa, contact Kobal Law. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.


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