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How does a "structured setting" affect mental illness disability?

Previous posts here have discussed some of the history of discrimination and social stigma that individuals with mental disabilities have faced in New Jersey, and throughout the country. One of these was forced placement in institutions whose purpose was more to protect society from the perceived threat of the mentally ill than to actually effect treatment on those institutionalized. Luckily, while certainly not perfect, we've come a long way in understanding and treating psychological disorders and diseases, and many modern treatment centers are beneficial to their patients, especially if they have certain specific difficulties.

On some occasions, people with certain mental illness disabilities may show marked improvement in their ability to function when in a certain type of facility. This may be due to the treatments available there, or simply the effect of the diminished mental or emotional demands placed upon residents. However, due to this fact, people in such facilities who may be eligible for benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance may face unique challenges in demonstrating such eligibility.

The Social Security Administration attempts to take this into account by recognizing that certain mental disabilities may be mitigated by placement in a "structured setting," while still remaining eligible for SSDI. Because people who reside in structured settings may not exhibit all of the symptoms of their underlying disorders, the SSA has determined that it must also look at whether the mental condition affects the individual's ability to function outside such a setting when making determinations of eligibility for disability benefits. There are also special conditions regarding the evaluation of agoraphobia, which is a fear of leaving the home.

The effects of mental and psychological disorders can be debilitating enough without the anxiety of having to worry about making ends meet. The main concern of every New Jersey resident should be their own health, and if that means a structured setting is a better choice the fear of losing or not being able to qualify for SSDI benefits should not prevent one from seeking such treatment.

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