Organic Mental Disorders and Disability Benefits

You may be under the impression that if you have a mental disorder, you won’t be qualified for disability benefits. However, in many cases, you can. We’ve previously discussed disability for mental disorders. Most people think of mental disorders as depression, anxiety, bipolar, PTSD, OCD, and other mood disorders.

But an organic brain disorder is different, and unless you’ve been diagnosed with one, you might not understand what that means. Here, we’ll offer some understanding on the subject.

Organic Mental Disorders and Disability Benefits

What Is An Organic Mental Disorder?

This is a condition that’s differentiated from other mental health conditions due to the causes. While other mental disorders are considered to be chemical in nature, or a result of a person’s circumstances (such as the loss of a spouse or a job), organic mental disorders have a direct, physical cause. These can include:

  • Heredity
  • Traumatic brain injury
    • Concussion
    • Bleeding in the brain or into the space around the brain
    • Blood clot inside the skull that puts pressure on the brain
  • Strokes that cause dementia
  • Hypertension that causes a brain injury
  • Low oxygen or high carbon dioxide levels in the body
  • Withdrawal from alcohol and/or drugs
  • Effects from drugs and/or alcohol inebriation (however, not from the use of alcohol and/or drugs)
  • Infections, such as blood poisoning, encephalitis, meningitis
  • Other medical conditions such as cancer, kidney/liver disease, hypo or hyperthyroidism
  • Vitamin B deficiency (B1, B12, or folate)

Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty understanding spoken language, such as the inability to speak
  • Behavioral changes
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Confusion/disorientation
  • Dementia
  • Delirium
  • Amnesia
  • Personality changes
  • Hallucinations

Filing For Disability Benefits

It is possible to receive disability for organic mental disorders (also called Organic Brain Dysfunction) by submitting a complete listing of medical records, evidence, test results, and the date of the diagnosis. Additional testing that shows the rate of cognitive decline may also be required, such as an IQ test. While a low IQ doesn’t necessarily mean the patient has it, a drop in IQ from one test to the next is usually an indicator of an organic mental disorder.

Individuals with severe neurocognitive impairments may require assistance from a spouse or other family members who care for the individual. They should inform the patient’s attending physician about their problems and conditions so that everything is added to the medical records. The SSA may request information from the spouse or other family members about the patient’s condition.

The “Blue Book”

The SSA’s Disability Evaluation Schedule considers organic mental disorders to be neurocognitive disorders, and the criteria can be found under Section 12.02.

To prove your claim, you will need to satisfy the SSA requirements in A and B, or A and C:

    1. Provide medical documentation of a significant cognitive decline from a prior level of functioning in one or more of the cognitive areas:
      • Complex attention
      • Executive function
      • Learning and memory
      • Language
      • Perceptual-motor or
      • Social cognition


    1. Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning:
      • Understand remember or apply information
      • Interact with others
      • Concentrate persist or maintain pace
      • Adapt or manage oneself


    1. Your mental disorder in this listing category is “serious and persistent;” that is, you have a medically documented history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least 2 years, and there is evidence of both:
      • Medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or a highly structured setting(s) that is ongoing and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of your mental disorder and
      • Marginal adjustment, that is, you have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life

If you need help filling out your application and compiling the records, get help from a Houston disability attorney with the knowledge and experience in disability law. Early assistance can save you time, money, and frustration in the long run.

Houston’s Disability Attorney For Mental Illness And Disorders

If you or a loved one have been denied disability payments for an organic mental disorder, we’re ready to help. Don’t give up on your claim—call us today.

The Herren Law Firm in Houston, TX can assist with your application, appeals and records gathering to prove your case, and win your claim. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 (or user our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and no up-front fees, and we only collect a fee if we win your case.

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