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  • Dan McCaskell, PhD

What Mental Impairments Qualify for SSDI?

Mental Impairments & Social Security Disability

As an Expert Social Security Claimant Representative, I am frequently asked questions about mental impairments and if they qualify for Social Security Disability.

Many of the questions are as follows:

  1. Is it possible to win on mental impairments?

  2. Is it more difficult to win on mental impairments than physical impairments?

  3. Are hospitalizations required to win on a mental impairment?

  4. Do I need to have had taken psychiatric medications to win?

  5. Are the side effects of my medications considered?

  6. Does being in special education help my claim?

  7. Can I win on a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?

  8. If I can't take the stress of normal work, does that count?

  9. I have severe fatigue and frequently fall asleep trying to do things. Does that count?

  10. I can't keep up with the pace or persistence of work. Does that count in Social Security?

  11. Is my bipolar condition considered by Social Security?


The short answer is "yes."

All of these conditions will be considered by Social Security and it is possible to get an award. One key aspect is the congruency of your signs and symptoms, your education, work experience, psychiatric treatment, and your response to medications.


Social Security may send you out for a psychological consultative examination and I typically advise my clients to go to those evaluations and to be truthful. I find the psychologists to be fairly liberal with respect to the diagnostic conditions and the residual effects on your capacity to work. The psychologist may frame your condition in terms of "moderate," "fair," "low," "mild," or "marked." Your limitations may be in your ability to concentrate or pay attention, keep up with the pace of work, or handle work stress.

Many times your treating psychiatrist or psychologists could make valuable statements regarding your impairment. For instance, there may be comments that your mental processing speed is extremely slow and you would have difficulty keeping up with even 1 to 2-step simple unskilled work. There may be comments regarding your capacity to work with the general public, coworkers, close supervision, making decisions, dealing with changes in the workplace, or using judgment.


Your mental impairments may be episodic, meaning they are not constant, but they are frequent enough to cause you not to be able to work 8 hours a day 5 days a week on a regular and continuous basis. Most Vocational Experts at your hearing will testify at your hearing that if you are absent from work 2 days per month on a regular basis, you will not be able to maintain employment.

Most Representatives have forms for your psychologist or psychiatrist to complete. Please keep in mind that marriage and family therapists do not count. Clinical neuropsychologist evaluations, while generally expensive, can be very helpful.


I trust this will give you some information and guidance as you move forward with your Social Security Disability claim.


Give me a call for a Free Consultation and discuss the Mental Impairments that are preventing you from working. You Can Rely On us!


Dan McCaskell, Ph.D.

C.R.C., C.V.E., C.C.M.

Social Security Claimant Representative

(707) 528-4003



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