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Disability Benefits for Mental Conditions: How Your Doctor Can Help

doctor typing medical records into computer

What your doctor types into your medical records can help or hurt your disability case.

To prove that you are disabled due to a mental health condition like anxiety, depression, or PTSD, your disability insurance company, Social Security, and even the Department of Veterans Affairs will want information about how your condition prevents you from working and limits your life activities. Your mental health provider’s medical records are a crucial part of proving a mental disability.  Your psychiatrist (M.D.) or psychologist (Ph.D.) doctor can help you by providing specific information about how your symptoms impact the following areas:

Concentration, persistence, and pace

  • How long can you pay attention at one time?
  • How long can you pay attention over the course of a day?
  • Do you need breaks more than once every two hours?

Absenteeism due to your psychological problems

  • How many days a month would you be expected to be absent from work?
  • Would you need a flexible schedule?
  • Will you need unscheduled breaks away from your desk or work station during the day?  How often?

Ability to sustain competitive employment, 8 hours a day, 40 hours per week

  • Even if you could get through one or two full work days, could you work a regular schedule Monday through Friday?
  • Would you need extra breaks the more you work?
  • Would your symptoms worsen over the course of a day or a week if you worked?

Ability to understand, remember, and carry out both simple and detailed instructions and work-like procedures

  • Provide examples of the problems you have following directions.
  • Can you follow driving directions given to you orally?  What about in writing?
  • What happens to you when someone tries to tell you the steps or process for how to do something?

Ability to interact appropriately with the public, supervisors, and coworkers

  • How do you react to criticism?
  • Are you cooperative?
  • How do you deal with authority figures?
  • Do you communicate clearly with others?

Ability to respond to normal work stress

  • Can you meet routine deadlines?
  • Can your work at a production pace?  For example, can you meet quotas or meet regular production deadlines?

Ability to perform simple, routine tasks

  • Do you need extra supervision to carry out your duties?
  • Can you finish tasks without distraction?

If you can get your doctor to describe your level of functioning in these areas. For example, the doctor can describe a percentage of the day you could engage in these activities, or the number of hours you can reasonably engage in these different activities at work each day.  If you are not able to function in a competitive job, your doctor can explain that as well.

By providing details about your mental disability, you are giving your LTD insurance company, Social Security, or the VA more information to understand your disability.  You must paint a complete picture of your ability to work every day, not just on your best days and not just on your worst days.  Anxiety, depression, and PTSD disability are challenging; help yourself by getting your psychiatrist or psychologist to understand how severely you are limited.


For assistance with your Long Term Disability claim, ERISA Disability benefit claim, Social Security Disability claim, or Veterans Disability compensation or pension claim, call Disability Lawyer John Tucker at (866) 282-5260.

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