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Reged: 04/02/09
Posts: 84
Loc: Milwaukee Wisconsin
Social Security Mental Health Examination
      #245662 - 05/06/09 12:47 AM

I filed for social security / disability and received notice that the Social Security Department has set up an appointment with one of their psychologists. The letter tells me I have to bring a friend they can question also. Has anyone been through this? Can you tell me what they are going to do and what they are looking for? What kind of questions will they be asking? Any helpful hints to make sure this goes through. I was diagnosed with AIDS in January 2009 and meet the health requirements, for good or bad. I guess they now want to see how bad my mind is? Any help posted or emailed to me at is appreciated. Thank you.


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Reged: 05/06/05
Posts: 924
Loc: Los Angeles
Re: Social Security Mental Health Examination new
      #245669 - 05/06/09 02:32 PM

Dear DJ,

I hope you have an advocate working for you, as most Social Security Disability claims without advocates are denied on the first go 'round.

If you have claimed a mental condition as disabling then you may have a rough go of it, as SS sees most mental conditions as controllable with drug therapy. Depression is difficult to establish as disabling, for example, since there are effective drug therapies.

I claimed HIV Associated Dementia as part of my claim. My doctor's submitted a detailed psychological profile with the results of a two day battery of tests done by an eminent psychoneurologist and the results of a lumbar puncture that showed that I had active infection in my brain.

I also submitted medical records of my hospitalization for PCP, which established my baseline AIDS diagnosis. I also submitted evidence of peripheral neuropathy.

With an advocate, I was awarded SSDI in 22 days. The advocate said my claim was approved so quickly because I had objective evidence of AIDS (the PCP hospitalization) and I had objective evidence of HIV related cognitive dysfunction (the psychoneuro tests and lumbar puncture). The advocate said that the depression and the neuropathy documentation helped my case but were not by themselves definitive.

My cognitive dysfunction has affected my ability to learn, remember, and follow instructions. I also have trouble controlling my moods and in tracking conversations. Because of the cognitive dysfunction I am unable to do any sort of work. One note if you are 55 or over or close to 55 such as 53 or 54, you may not have to submit documentation that shows you cannot learn a new occupation. The SS views 55 as the cut-off age for learning a new occupation and becomes more lenient the closer you are to 55. I was 54 when I applied.

You should be aware that after you are awarded benefits, there is a five month waiting period before you receive benefits and a two year waiting period before you are eligible for Medicare (however, there is a pilot program that you may qualify for that will give you Medicare immediately).

You local AIDS Service Center can help you find an advocate if you need one. Most of them provide free services. It is preferable to be awarded benefits on the first go rather that be denied and have to submit an appeal. Many SS offices are enrolled in pilot program in which the office that received the application also decides any appeals. You want to avoid applying at these offices as it cuts off your appeal at the office level and does not allow you an appeal at a higher level. Still it is really preferable to get SSDI on the first go.

Good luck. Please let me know how your claim pans out.


Life is a river.
Carpe diem.

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