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Study Shows Link Between Mental and Physical Illnesses

A recent study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that individuals with mental illness are more likely to have chronic physical illness as well, which may have an impact on their eligibility and applications for Social Security disability insurance benefits.

According to the study, which analyzed data from the 2008-2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, people who reported that they had a mental illness or major depressive incident were more likely to also have a physical condition such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke

These individuals also reported visiting the emergency room or being hospitalized more frequently than those without a mental illness. According to the study, people with a mental illness visited the emergency room almost 11 percent more often than people who did not have a mental illness. The rate of hospitalization is about five percent higher than those without a mental illness.

This study is consistent with other studies that, together, support a link between mental and physical illnesses. Certain mental impairments such as depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, dementia and mood disorders may qualify an individual to receive SSDI benefits, especially in combination with the presence of other physical impairments.

Individuals with co-occurring physical and mental illnesses who apply for SSDI benefits must be sure to have documentation of the multiple conditions. While a majority of initial SSDI applications are denied, proper documentation of the illnesses and how they affect one’s ability to work can increase the chances of success at the initial application stage or on appeal.

For more information on and assistance with the SSDI application process or for help with an appeal of an initial application denial, contact a knowledgeable SSDI attorney.