People in West Virginia with mental and physical disabilities may be eligible to receive disability benefits if they are unable to work. Some people may wonder if their application will be handled differently if they have a disability related to mental illness as opposed to a physical impairment. The evaluation process used by disability examiners and administrative law judges is the same, but there may be differences in how a claim is dealt with.
In the case of a claim related to physical disability, a medical consultant affiliated with the Social Security Administration will review the applicant's records and provide a rating of each person's "residual functional capacity", a number designed to indicate a person's ability to perform different types of labor. This assessment focuses on physical abilities like sight, hearing, balance, lifting, strength and movement. These ratings are used by the disability examiner to determine if the applicant can return to a previous job or take on new work. In some cases, applicants may be required to go to a medical examination by a physician contracted by the SSA to produce an assessment of their ability to work.
In the case of a mental impairment, a psychologist will assess the applicant's records and estimate a "mental residual functional capacity" based on the severity of the symptoms described. In addition, applicants may be sent for a mental consultative exam. Unlike the examinations for physical disabilities, mental exams ordered by the SSA can be detailed and lengthy, involving extensive testing. However, the fundamental assessment remains the same for both types of disability applications.
People with disabilities that prevent them from working may need Social Security Disability benefits. An attorney can help applicants to present the clearest evidence possible throughout the process, from the initial application to a hearing before an administrative law judge.