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I Have Borderline Personality Disorder. Am I entitled to Social Security Disability?

Penn Yan, NY |

I have worked for the past 4-5 years at minimum wage jobs in various settings with much difficulty. I have just graduated from college and now must decide if I can hold employment. My Borderline Personality Disorder hinders my ability to have/form interpersonal relationships with others. It is difficult for me to communicate my feelings and act appropriately with others, causing me to be in constant conflict with my colleagues and supervisors. I am not well suited for many jobs as most if not all require some sort of teamwork. My moods cause me to be unpredictable and I often suffer with cutting and/or other self injurious behaviors. I am undergoing therapy and am medicated, but have not been able to get the disorder under control at this point. Am I entitled to Social Security Disability?

While working for the past several years, I have rarely if ever earned $1000 a month. I also want to state that when diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, I had 7 to 8 out of 9 criterion in the DSM-IV (only 5 out of 9 are required).

Attorney Answers 3

  1. Entitled? No. Eligible? Maybe.

    Social Security Disability (SSD) is financed with Social Security taxes paid by workers, employers, and self-employed persons. To be eligible for a Social Security benefit, the worker must earn sufficient credits based on taxable work to be "insured" for Social Security purposes. Disability benefits are payable to: blind or disabled workers, their children, widow(er)s, and adults disabled since childhood The worker will get Medicare coverage automatically after receiving disability benefits for two years. The amount of the monthly disability benefit is based on the Social Security earnings record of the insured worker.
    Supplemental Security Income (SSI)is financed through general revenues from taxes, meaning benefits are not based on your prior work history. In most states, beneficiaries will automatically be eligible for Medicaid. SSI benefits are payable to: individuals age 65 or older, adults who are disabled or blind, children who are disabled or blind. Eligibility requirements: have limited income and resources, meet the living arrangement requirements, be a U.S. citizen or national, or in one of certain categories of aliens. The monthly payment varies up to the maximum federal benefit rate, which may be supplemented by the state.
    Whether you are disabled or not is determined under the same analysis for either program. Social Security reviews cases using the five-step sequential evaluation process to decide is a person is disabled. Here are the 5 questions that make up the sequential evaluation process:

    (1) Does your impairment keep you from being able to perform a substantial gainful activity (SGA), generally full-time, competitive, work?

    (2) Is your impairment severe? AND, is your impairment expected to remain severe for at least 12 months?

    (3) Does your impairment “meet or equal” one of Social Security’s “Listing of Impairments?” A listing of medical conditions, acceptable medical evidence, and the severity necessary for an impairment to be considered disabling. There are separate listings for adults and for children.

    (4) Does your impairment prevent you from being able to perform any job you performed over the last 15 years which was also a substantial gainful activity?

    (5) Does your impairment prevent you from being able to perform any other type of work which exists in substantial numbers of the national economy?

    nationwide statistics from the Social Security Administration show that:

    a) Initial Applications are denied approximately 65% of the time and these take 3-4 months on average to process, but can take six months or more.

    b) Requests for Reconsideration (the first appeal) are denied about 87% of the time and these also take 3-4 months on average to process, but can take six months or more.

    c) Hearings before a Social Security ALJ (the second appeal) are approved about 62% of the time - the wait to get to a hearing varies greatly depending on which hearing office you are dealing with (the time varies from 7 to 24 months at the various hearings offices around the country), in our area the current wait is approximately 16 months (it has been as high as 25 months in the past five years).

    According to the General Accounting office of the US Government, the percentage of ultimately favorable decisions for claimants with attorney representation was about 61% compared to 39% without representation. With representation you are more likely to win your Social Security Disability benefits.

    Search here on Avvo, contact your local or state bar association, or check with NOSSCR or NADR to find a Social Security attorney in your area. NOSSCR Lawyer Referral Service - For help in finding attorney representation, contact its lawyer referral service during Eastern business hours: 800-431-2804 or see: . NADR - Find a Representative - tel automated system: 1-800-747-6131 or see: .

    Disclaimer Information on this site is provided by Brian Scott Wayson as general information, not legal advice, and use of this information does not establish an attorney-client relationship. If you have questions about your specific situation, please call an attorney.

  2. I have practiced Social Security Disability law for 35 years. I think it would be very difficult to obtain disability for your type of condition. Your type of condition is generally denied with the statement "the claimant can do simple unstressful work." It would be up to you to produce psychiatric testimony that you cannot do this type of work. Perhaps, instead, you can work with your State Department of Rehabilitation to find more meaningful work or some more education.

    This response is meant to be information only and should not be considered to be legal advice. This information is not meant and should not be construed to be the formation of an attorney client relationship. I practice Virginia Workers compensation law and Social Security Disability law.

  3. Whether or not you qualify medically/psychiatrically for disability depends on what limitations are caused by your conditions. It is very important that you have documented medical treatment. You listed some limitations above, but there also may be others. Also age, education and past work are all factors to be considered. An attorney would need all of that information before determining the strength of your case.

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