Organic Mental Disorders that Qualify for Disability Benefits
Organic mental disorders are conditions in which there is a physical dysfunction of the brain causing severe behavioral or mental impairments. These conditions may or may not be permanent, and can be inherited or caused by an injury, illness, or a defect in the body’s hormones or chemistry. Organic mental disorders do not include psychiatric disorders.
People who suffer from organic mental disorders can be impacted in numerous ways, from the inability to work a fulltime job and take part in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), to being unable to take care of their own physical needs. Individuals with these disorders can qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) with proper evidence that supports their claim and proves that their disorder is debilitating.
Symptoms and Qualifying Disorders
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for approving and denying disability claims, utilizing the Blue Book to determine whether or not an individual qualifies for SSDI. The Blue Book lists debilitating, life altering physical and mental disorders, as well as their associated symptoms.
Organic mental disorders commonly cause memory loss, confusion, and agitation, all as a result of loss of brain function. However, symptoms are not limited to these few and can vary depending on the condition. Examples of some organic mental disorders include delirium, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and amnesia.
Delirium may be caused by ingesting a toxic substance, medication, infection, or a combination of factors. Delirium is an acute onset disorder that leads to incoherent thought, speech, confusion, hallucinations, and delusions. Delirium often affects sleep patterns, can include moments of lucidity, and typically, can be reversed.
Dementia involves a severe decline in cognitive and intellectual functioning. Individuals who suffer from dementia experience a loss of brain function that results in various symptoms, such as confusion, mood shifts, memory loss, issues with speech, disorientation, and personality changes.
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia characterized by the progressive loss of intellectual and cognitive ability, as well as the development of abnormal tissue and protein deposits in the brain.
Amnesia is defined as significant memory loss, either partial or complete. It typically affects short term memory (although it can affect long term, as well), and may or may not be reversible. Amnesia can be caused by illness, brain injury, shock, or psychological disturbance.
Organic mental disorders may also include “substance-induced cognitive disorder associated with drugs of abuse, medications, or toxins,” according to the Blue Book.
Unfortunately, often the best and only real treatment for organic mental disorders is supportive care- however, it depends on the disorder.
Filing for SSDI With an Organic Mental Disorder
The Social Security Administration evaluates claims filed under the neurocognitive mental disorders category, section 12.02 in the Blue Book. The SSA requires claimants to provide supporting medical evidence when filing, such as laboratory test results or examinations.
A claimant must be able to demonstrate that they have lost significant cognitive abilities or experienced significant changes in mental state, and at least one serious, recurring symptom, such as disorientation in regard to time and place; memory impairment; mood disturbances; loss of measured intellectual ability; perceptual or thinking disturbances, such as hallucinations; etc.
Changes that took place must result in significant restrictions to daily activities, social functioning, maintaining concentration, etc. Effects of the disorder should also include episodes of worsening symptoms that last longer than previous episodes; history of an inability to live outside a highly supportive environment for at least one year; limited ability to complete basic work activities; and other significant effects.
Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits
If you or a loved one is struggling with an organic mental disorder, and you are having difficulty filing for SSDI, contact Peña & Bromberg today and allow our Social Security Disability attorneys to advocate for the benefits you need. We will compile the correct documentation to support your claim, and give you the best chance at having your claim approved, whether this is your first time applying for SSDI benefits or you are filing an appeal. Contact us at Peña & Bromberg to request a free consultation.