If you allege being disabled when you apply for Social Security Disability from a mental health condition, you should be seeing a psychiatrist, therapist or both. Many clients describe devastating mental symptoms that stop them from working, but still do not want to go to a psychiatrist (a.k.a. “shrink”) because they are worried about what others will think of them ( stigma ).

The Social Security Administration offers two types of benefits for the disabled: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI benefits). In order to be found eligible for either benefit you must have a severe illness that prevents you from working (engaging in substantial gainful activity).

In order to prove that you are disabled due to your mental impairment, you will need medical evidence documenting your mental health symptoms. You should be seeing a psychiatrist, psychologist and/or therapist if a mental health issue is your main disability. Many clients will obtain a psychiatric medication from their treating doctor (family doctor or general practitioner). SSA prefers treatment from a mental health specialist.

If you allege being disabled from a mental health disorder on your disability application and are not seeing a mental health professional, SSA may send you to a psychiatrist (consultative examination ) to be examined. This doctor will only see you once and their opinion will only be a snapshot.

So, YES, you do need to be going to a psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist (preferably a treating physician and a therapist) for Social Security Disability if you are alleging that mental impairments are preventing you from working.

What to tell a psychiatrist to get disability?

There are many psychiatric disorders (intellectual disability, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, personality disorder or depression, etc.) that can prevent you from working. What to tell a psychiatrist depends on what symptoms you are having. Social interaction difficulties, anger, violence, hallucinations, sadness, hyper-vigilance, binge-eating, irrational fears, nightmares, flashbacks, suicidal thoughts or homicidal thoughts are possible all symptoms you may be struggling to deal with in your daily life. The best thing to tell a psychiatrist to get disability is the truth about what you are going through.

Don’t exaggerate, try to impress or worry about what a mental health professional is thinking about you. You should use your psychological treatment as time to discuss your symptoms honestly so you can receive feedback that can help you on your road to recovery. In my experience, mental health professionals take issue with patients who see them merely to obtain disability benefits.

The symptoms that you discuss during therapy or psychiatry appointments can lead to a preliminary diagnosis. Many psychiatric disorders have overlapping symptoms so you may be given multiple r/o (rule out) diagnoses. Establishing long term care with a mental health specialist can allow them to assess your diagnoses and symptoms over time to determine the correct course of treatment for you.

Unfortunately for many, finding the correct course of treatment for a mental disorder can be difficult. But if you are in therapy and following all medical advice but your symptoms fail to improve that is persuasive evidence to the Social Security Administration that your psychiatric disability is preventing you from working despite your best effort. Effort counts. I advise my clients’ that the best way to get on Social Security Disability benefits is to do all that you can to get well.

While mental illness is unseen compared to physical disability, the effects can be as devastating, if not more so. If you are suffering from a mental health impairment please seek treatment as soon as possible.

The Bishop Law Firm represents Social Security Disability clients in Raleigh, NC and surrounding areas. We do not get paid unless we win and we offer free case evaluations. Call us today!