Acceptable Medical Sources for Mental Illness Disability

The Social Security Administration relies on the knowledge, experience and expertise of medical professional to determine whether someone with a mental illness is eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

The process of examining and researching a variety of mentally disabling conditions and ensuring that they meet eligibility or criteria standards involves a series of guidelines that are found in the Social Security Administration's "Blue Book," a publication also known as the Disability Evaluation under Social Security.

Mental Illness Criteria

In order to be considered for benefits under the mental illness category, an individual may be tested on their ability to recall instructions and/or understand and carry out a variety of tasks. The individual is also tested as to whether they respond in an appropriate manner to work pressure, in their relationships with coworkers, and their ability to take instruction and respond in a positive manner to supervision.

An individual's treatment history as well as responses to such questions as well as treatment is also evaluated. In addition, documents that detail current ability in spite of a disabling mental condition, as well as what a person cannot do because of that disabling mental condition, are also evaluated.

Disability Evaluation under Social Security

Section 112.00 of the Blue Book defines disability evaluations for children under age the age of 18. As an example, the category of mental impairments may include organic mental disorders, psychotic disorders, schizophrenic, delusional disorders and mood disorders. Aspects of mental retardation as well as anxiety disorders, personality disorders and autistic and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders are also evaluated under this category.

Medical evidence must include signs, symptoms, and developmental or psychological test findings and measurements of severity based on functional limitations caused by mental impairment. A few of the functions tested will include cognitive and communicative functions, motor function, concentration, and personal functional abilities.

Testing is adapted to certain age groups, such as those under age 12, adolescents or those ages 12 to 18. Adults likewise undergo similar testing for cognitive functioning and ability based on doctor's diagnosis and prognosis.

Acceptable Medical Sources for Disability Claim

The Social Security Administration accepts documentation, medical records, and diagnosis as well as a prognosis outcome from licensed physician and psychiatrist and psychologist. The Social Security Administration will request evidence supporting mental disability claims. This information comes directly from doctors, psychologists or psychiatrists treating the individual who is applying for Social Security Disability benefits.

The Social Security Administration also prefers records from a medical professional or professionals currently involved in the treatment of the individual over longer periods of time, rather than a medical professionals, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, who only sees a patient one or two times, during a brief hospital stay or during a one-time consultation or examination.

A doctor who has seen the individual for a longer period is able to offer a greater range of medical evidence and tracking of the development over time. The diagnosis of a mental disorder must be documented in medical records based on acceptable medical evidence sources in order for an applicant to qualify for disability benefits.