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When Disability Goes Masked in Pennsylvania: SSDI and Hidden Impairments

Posted D. Joseph Chapman on Jul 04, 2013 in Social Security Disability

It’s obvious why some people are seeking coverage under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program: their physical impairments are significant and readily apparent to everyone. They show distinctive signs of incapacity so severe that it’s clearly impossible for them to work productively.

But many other—perhaps most—impairments show no outward symptoms to casual inspection. Perhaps a medical expert could discern signs of a serious ailment from a person’s involuntary tremor, another person’s pale color and papery skin, or a third person’s persistent cough; most of us would not recognize these symptoms at all. Someone who is disabled by severely diminished vision, by a terminal cancer, or by coronary artery disease may seem perfectly healthy to an untrained observer.

If some grave physical diseases can seem invisible to the average observer, what can we say about ailments that have no physical symptoms at all? Various psychological impairments and mental disorders are even subtler in their symptoms, because they affect behavior rather than physical appearance—yet they can be just as disabling as physical disease.

Why it’s so hard to get SSDI benefits for psychological illness…

As Social Security lawyers in Harrisburg, we are aware that about one in every five SSDI recipients in Pennsylvania is getting federal benefits for a psychological disability. Only people with a strong work history who now are facing a disabling condition expected to last at least a year are eligible to collect federal disability assistance payments. Because mental illnesses so often are both severe and resistant to treatment, it’s an obvious question to ask: Why do so many of our clients report extreme difficulty getting their SSDI applications approved?

We believe a key explanation is that mental illness is an invisible condition. Many patients display no outward symptom other than occasional behavioral problems. In addition, persons with psychological disorders often avoid other people or learn to disguise their behavior in order to not face discrimination from people who fear the mentally ill. This same strategy of “hiding in plain sight” may guide the person away from seeking therapy until his condition reaches a critical point.

… and what makes Schmidt Kramer different

The Pennsylvania disability attorneys at Schmidt Kramer understand the difficulties our clients with psychological disabilities have to deal with when they try to claim the benefits they deserve. We are known for our compassionate and matter-of-fact approach that helps relieve clients’ anxieties when dealing with government bureaucrats. We know how to break through the isolation and stigma imposed by mental illness to maximize the chances your SSDI application will be approved—or that you’ll get a favorable response for your appeal.

Use the contact form on this website, or call us at 717-888-8888 or 888-476-0807 toll-free to get us started on securing your SSDI benefits. Your first consultation is 100 percent FREE with no future obligations.