Eligibility for Disability Benefits and Mental Symptoms & Limitations

This website is not intended to help prepare people to testify who have only mental limitations, since the issues in such cases are different in many ways from those we have been discussing; and it is difficult to make general statements about how to prepare for such cases.

If your case involves only mental limitations, you and your lawyer will need to go through these matters before the hearing. For those with mental limitations in combination with physical impairments, it is also necessary to discuss the mental limitations with your lawyer prior to your hearing. However, there are a few things that we can say about mental limitations in combination with physical impairments.

Many people who have serious physical problems, especially if they have been having pain for a long time, develop emotional aspects to their physical impairments. This is so common that it is surprising to find someone with a long-term physical problem who doesn't also have some emotional problem. However, many people who suffer physical impairments are afraid to talk about this emotional component of pain for fear they will be viewed as crazy. Having such problems doesn't mean you're crazy; it probably means you're normal.

It is important for you to be willing and able to describe any emotional problems you have because it is often the emotional aspect of pain that interferes the greatest with the ability to work. Common problems include:

  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Forgetfulness.
  • Nervousness.
  • A quick temper.
  • Difficulty getting along with others.
  • Avoiding other people.
  • Crying spells.
  • Depression.

If you have some of these problems, you may also be asked about your ability to do the following:

  • Understand, carry out, and remember instructions.
  • Make judgments.
  • Respond to supervisors, co-workers and usual work situations.
  • Deal with changes in a routine work setting.

You may be asked how well you deal with stress, which, you must remember, is a very individual thing. Different people find different things stressful. If the judge asks you about how well you deal with stress, be sure to tell the judge what sorts of things you find stressful, especially things at work.

Sometimes claimants have trouble putting their fingers on exactly what it is about work that they find stressful. Here’s a list of examples of things some people find stressful in work:

  • Meeting deadlines.
  • Completing job tasks.
  • Working with others.
  • Dealing with the public.
  • Working quickly.
  • Trying to work with precision.
  • Doing complex tasks.
  • Making decisions.
  • Working within a schedule.
  • Dealing with supervisors.
  • Being criticized by supervisors.
  • Simply knowing that work is supervised.
  • The monotony of routine.
  • Getting to work regularly.
  • Remaining at work for a full day.
  • Fear of failure at work.

Sometimes people find routine, repetitive work stressful because of the monotony of routine, lack of opportunity for learning new things, little opportunity for decision-making, lack of collaboration on the job, underutilization of skills, or the lack of meaningfulness of work. Think about whether you find any of these things particularly stressful. If so, discuss them with your lawyer..