Category Archives: disability

When you get turned down for disability

After being denied SSI or SSDI disability benefits on the initial application and then again on the Request for Reconsideration, people with psychiatric conditions have a lot riding on their OHA hearings. The OHA hearing is the first real opportunity to show how mental health symptoms affect functioning.

If the hearing doesn’t result in benefits, do not despair! The disappointing letter from the Administrative Law Judge is really an instruction manual telling you how to prove the claim the next time.

Does it say that there are certain kinds of jobs that you should be able to do? Try those jobs– exactly those jobs or as close as you can get in your community. See what happens. If one works out, good! You’ll have an income. If none of them work out, you have proof for your next hearing that you aren’t able to do those jobs.

Does it say that you didn’t demonstrate certain symptoms? If you really do have those symptoms, think about who has seen them: friends, relatives, police, business owners… and get those people to write descriptive letters for your next hearing.

Chapter 2 of Family Guide to Mental Illness and the Law has much more information about proving disability. Look for the book at your public library.

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