Organic Mental Disorders and Social Security Disability

Millions of Americans suffer from organic mental disorders. In some cases these disorders may be mild, having little impact on one's ability to live a normal and active life. In other cases, organic mental disorders can be severe and can have a detrimental impact on one's ability to perform ordinary day-to-day activities. As a result, the ability to sustain gainful employment is impossible. On account of this, many of the people who suffer from organic mental disorders need Social Security Disability benefits in order to cover the cost of their basic living expenses. If you or someone you know is suffering from an organic mental disorder, the following information can help you understand the Social Security Disability application process and how the Social Security Administration reviews disability claims based on organic mental disorders.

Organic Mental Disorders - Conditions and Symptoms

An organic mental disorder, also known as organic brain syndrome, is a condition in which mental or behavioral abnormalities develop due to brain dysfunction. Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, OCD, depression and autism are all examples of organic mental disorders.

The symptoms of organic mental disorders vary depending on the type of disorder from which the patient is suffering. For example, those suffering from bipolar disorder will experience extreme mood swings ranging from feelings of euphoria to feelings of despair. Those who suffer from autism will exhibit problems with social development. Individuals who are diagnosed with schizophrenia will often experience delusions and hallucinations. A qualified psychiatrist can determine exactly which type of organic mental disorder a patient is suffering from based on the symptoms that are presented.

In some cases organic mental disorders can be diagnosed using blood tests, EEGs, MRIs and CT scans. Unfortunately, laboratory tests are not always able to diagnose an organic mental disorder and patients must rely on the evaluation of a qualified psychiatrist in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis. A psychiatrist can evaluate a patient by providing a comprehensive mental evaluation and by having the patient provide answers to a variety of questionnaires.

While there is no cure for organic mental disorders, many of these conditions can be treated with psychotherapy sessions and prescription medications. Unfortunately, not all patients will respond to treatment in the same way. In most cases it will take weeks or even months before the treatment will begin to take effect. In some cases treatment may have little impact on the symptoms caused by the organic mental disorder. Patients who suffer from extreme organic mental disorders may need to rely on assisted living services in order to maintain an acceptable quality of life.

Filing for Social Security Disability with an Organic Mental Disorder

Many of the individuals who are diagnosed with an organic mental disorder will qualify for Social Security Disability benefits depending on the severity of the disorder and the limitations the disorder places on the person's ability to function.

When an individual applies for Social Security Disability benefits, the disability examiner will refer to a published listing of impairments known as the Social Security “Blue Book”. Organic mental disorders are covered under Section 12.02 of this publication. In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits under these published guidelines the organic mental disorder must completely prevent an individual from being able to perform gainful work activity.

In order to prove your disability to the Social Security Administration it is important to provide as much documentation as possible when submitting your Social Security Disability claim. Medical records, psychiatric exams, therapy records and statements from the medical professionals who have been treating the condition can help support a claim for disability benefits. In some cases, the disability examiner may require that an applicant attend a consultative exam for further proof of the disability if enough documentation is not provided with the initial application.

Organic Mental Disorders and Your Social Security Disability Case

When applying for Social Security Disability benefits due to an organic mental disorder your application may be approved at the initial stage of the application process if your condition is severe enough and if enough medical evidence is provided with your initial disability application. If your application is denied, you may still be able to receive the Social Security Disability benefits you need. In order to do so, you will need to go on to file an appeal of the Social Security Administration's decision to deny your benefits.

If you would like help applying for disability or if initial application for disability benefits is denied (and 70 percent of applications are), you should consider retaining the services of a qualified Social Security Disability – preferably an attorney who is knowledgeable in organic mental disorder cases. Statistics have shown that hiring a disability attorney to represent you during your Social Security Disability appeal and at your disability hearing can increase your chances of receiving a favorable decision during the Social Security Disability appeals process.

Additional Resources