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Memory impairment as qualifying SS disability

Mental illness is widely misunderstood even though it is rather common. Even among those who understand the basics of mental illness, many do not realize that a range of mental health conditions can result in a mental health disability. Because the Social Security Disability system aims to provide assistance and benefits to people who cannot work due to a disability, there are many people who suffer from a mental illness who may be eligible for benefits.

One of the lesser discussed types of, or consequences of, mental illness is memory impairment. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration recognizes that memory impairment can contribute to or constitute a qualifying disability for benefits in certain situations. In general, memory impairment most specifically relates to the "organic mental disorders" category of mental impairments. This category broadly refers to abnormalities that are either psychological or behavioral and that are associated with some kind of brain dysfunction. In addition to an abnormal mental state, such disorders generally correspond with a loss of abilities that had been previously acquired.

Not all similar mental disorders will make an applicant eligible for SSD benefits, however. The disorder must be sufficiently severe, as judged in comparison with three different categories of criteria. The SSA's Blue Book identifies criteria that are classified in levels A, B, and C. A person suffering from a mental disorder can qualify if they meet both the requirements of category A and B or the requirements in category C alone.

Memory impairment can satisfy the requirements for category A, regardless of whether it is short-term, intermediate and long-term. However, in connection with that memory impairment, an applicant for benefits must also show one of the following as a result: marked restriction in daily living activities, marked difficulties in social functioning, marked difficulties in concentration, persistence or pace; or repeated episodic decompensation.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Disability Evaluation Under Social Security: 12.00 Mental Disorders - Adult," last accessed May 12, 2015

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