Mental illnesses come in all forms, and can have a wide range of symptoms. The Social Security Administration (SSA) allows people who have difficulty concentrating due to mental or emotional disabilities to collect benefits, but only if they are able to demonstrate that their disability significantly impacts their ability to work.

SSA may consider you disabled based on your responses to the following:

  • Mental status exams. These tests ask the worker to perform a series of tasks, such as counting down from 100 by threes or sevens, to find out how long it takes you to complete each task and how you respond to each one.
  • Psychological tests. These tests are focused on both intelligence and memory, and include tasks that ask the worker to recall information and use problem-solving skills.
  • Work evaluations. You may be asked to perform real or simulated work tasks, such as filing, looking up information, using computer programs, or completing a typical work request from start to finish. Evaluators are usually focused on how long you are able to sustain the task without help or interruption, as well as how long it takes for you to complete the project.
  • Work environment. In some cases, concentration disabilities are made worse by the employee’s work A test in a quiet room may not accurately demonstrate the pressures of a normal workday.

Evidence Is the Key to Winning Your Social Security Case

These tests are only one factor in determining disability eligibility. Workers must also have medical proof of an existing medical impairment, supported by doctor’s notes and other laboratory findings. In addition, workers will be assigned a residual functional capacity that dictates how much they are affected by their disability, thereby determining their ability to complete tasks in a timely basis. For example, if you cannot complete tasks within a reasonable timeframe, need increased rest breaks or need help from coworkers to do your work,.you may quailfy for benefits.

To find out if you could qualify for disability benefits, click the contact link on this page to have us explain your options to you one-on-one.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska