Why Get Mental Health Treatment if My Disability is Physical?

December 4, 2020

We at Nash Disability Law hear this question often. Nash Attorney Bob Godnik says, “I work every day with clients who suffer from debilitating disease and pain and I see its psychological toll. Not being able to provide for yourself or your family is stressful. Not being able to do the things you used to do can be depressing. Waking up each morning in pain can wear on you. Rather than wondering why you should consider mental health treatment, the better question is: ‘How can everything you’re going through NOT affect your mental health?’”

Health professionals agree that stress, anxiety, and depression can negatively impact your physical health. So as your physical impairments reduce your mental well-being, your reduced mental well-being negatively impacts your already decreasing physical health. This vicious circle can lead to a downward spiral that’s difficult to overcome without proper treatment.

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, it is not enough to say you are disabled. It is not even enough to have your doctor say you are disabled. In the final analysis, the term “disabled” in itself doesn’t really mean much to the Social Security Administration. Disability is not determined based on how unhealthy you are. You have to prove that your medical condition (or combination of conditions) prevents you from sustaining a job. (For more on this topic see: The Secret to Winning Your Disability Case.) But it is also true that Social Security must take the combination of ALL of your health impairments into account when determining whether you are disabled. For example, let’s say you suffer from debilitating back pain that makes it unbearable to stand for more than a few minutes at a time. But you previously worked as a front desk clerk at a hotel. Since you may be able do your job while sitting, the back pain may not be enough to qualify you for disability benefits. However, if the back pain causes you stress and anxiety to the point that you are unable to deal with the public—a key requirement for a desk clerk—you may have a stronger argument for disability benefits. (For more on this see
Do Multiple Health Problems Improve the Odds of Receiving Benefits?) “But remember,” Godnik says,”just stating that you’re depressed or anxious won’t get you anywhere without medical documentation.”

Godnik adds, “So if you hear someone from Nash Disability Law ask you questions about your mental health, don’t be defensive. We care not only about providing you with the best chance of being awarded the Social Security disability benefits you deserve; we care about you as a person.”

For a free evaluation of your disability case, contact the Chicagoland Social Security Disability Attorneys at Nash Disability Law.