Mental Disorders

The evaluation of disability on the basis of mental disorders requires documentation of a medically determinable impairment and consideration of the degree of limitation the impairment imposes on one’s ability to work. These limitations must have lasted or be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months. The evaluation of disability also requires evaluation of the individual’s ability to engage in the activities of daily living, to function socially, and to concentrate or focus on the completion of tasks.

Diagnosis of the one of the following seven mental disorders can result in a disability finding:

In addition, a diagnosis of any of the above mental disorders requires at least two of the following:

  • Marked restriction of activities of daily living.
  • Marked difficulties in maintaining social function.
  • Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace.
  • Repeated episodes of temporary increases in symptoms, each of extended duration.

In addition, the specific mental disorder must have been of at least two years’ duration, must have caused more than a minimal limitation of ability to do basic work activities, as documented by medical records, and must have one of the following criteria:

  • Repeated episodes of temporary increases in symptoms, each of extended duration.
  • A residual disease process that has resulted in such marginal adjustment that even a minimal increase in mental demands or change in the environment would be predicted to cause the individual to suffer increased symptoms.
  • Current history of one or more years’ inability to function outside a highly supportive living arrangement, with an indication of continued need for such an arrangement.

Two other categories of mental disorder may also result in a disability finding:

A diagnosis of a mental disorder that meets the requirements of a disability finding is complex and requires evaluation across a range of criteria, including the individual’s residual functional capacity (RFC), a multidimensional description of the work-related abilities of the individual in spite of medical impairments.

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