People in Pennsylvania typically think of physical limitations when defining disability, but documented mental disorders could significantly impede a person's ability to hold a job. The Social Security Administration recognizes that serious and ongoing mental health problems could represent valid reasons for the approval of disability benefits. The agency has a listing manual that includes anxiety disorder or panic attacks as qualifying conditions.
The manual details the criteria that people must satisfy to achieve a disabled status. Specific diagnoses within medical records, such as cerebral palsy, bipolar disorder or seizure disorder, could meet these requirements. For mental and anxiety disorders, applicants need to present documentation about at least three persistent symptoms associated with their mental health condition. Impairment caused by their symptoms must meet at least two of the standards for severe impairment, which are repeated episodes of decompensation or a restricted ability to engage in daily activities, to function socially or to concentrate. A documented inability to function outside the home at all could satisfy the impairment requirements.
Ideally, applicants will present a documented history of evaluations by mental health professionals. These records could establish that impairment is ongoing and not temporary.
A person seeking SSD benefits on the grounds of mental impairment might experience a greater degree of difficulty in gaining approval compared to other conditions. Although the agency might deny such an application and reject it during a reconsideration appeal, the chances of approval could improve at a hearing with an administrative law judge. The representation of an attorney could enable a person to go through these steps. Outsourcing communications to an attorney might allow someone troubled by a mental health problem to overcome barriers to a successful claim.