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May is Mental Health Awareness Month, when many come together and shed light on the significance of mental well-being, and promote understanding and support for those facing mental health challenges. Mental health impairments are increasingly recognized as valid grounds for seeking Social Security Disability benefits. Recently, a groundbreaking Federal Court case in the 4th Circuit has set a crucial precedent, emphasizing the significance of subjective testimony in assessing the severity of mental health symptoms. The recent court case, Shelley C. v. Commissioner of SSA, No. 21-2042 (4th Cir. 2023), is particularly relevant to our clients and highlights the evolving landscape of mental health impairments in disability claims.
Mental health impairments can be just as debilitating as physical injuries, often affecting an individual’s ability to function in various aspects of life. Conditions such as anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia can significantly impact a person’s daily functioning, including their capacity to work. However, mental health impairments can be challenging to diagnose and objectively measure, as they often manifest through subjective symptoms and may not be fully reflected in medical records.
In the case of Shelley C. v. Commissioner of SSA, the 4th Circuit Court recognized the significance of subjective testimony provided by the claimant, even when it contradicts the severity of symptoms documented in medical records. The court held that administrative law judges (ALJs) must genuinely consider the subjective experiences and symptoms described by claimants when evaluating mental health impairments. This ruling signifies a departure from the sole reliance on medical records, which are often insufficient to capture the true impact of mental health conditions on individuals’ lives.
The decision in Shelley C. v. Commissioner of SSA is a landmark ruling that may directly impact our clients seeking Social Security Disability benefits based on mental health impairments. By emphasizing the importance of subjective testimony, the court acknowledges the unique challenges faced by individuals with mental health conditions and the necessity of considering their personal experiences and self-reported symptoms. This decision sets a powerful precedent, ensuring that ALJs take into account the subjective nature of mental health impairments when assessing disability claims.
At Jan Dils, we are committed to advocating for our clients’ rights and providing them with comprehensive legal representation. With the recent ruling, we are better equipped to fight for the rights of individuals with mental health impairments who deserve fair consideration for Social Security Disability benefits. We understand that mental health conditions can be complex. We strive to gather comprehensive evidence, including subjective testimony, to present a compelling case that accurately reflects the impact of mental health impairments on our clients’ daily lives.
As Mental Health Awareness Month draws to a close, it is crucial to acknowledge the significance of mental health impairments in disability claims. The recent Federal Court case, Shelley C. v. Commissioner of SSA, highlights the evolving understanding of mental health in the legal realm and the importance of subjective testimony. This groundbreaking ruling mandates that ALJs consider the subjective experiences and symptoms described by claimants when evaluating mental health impairments. Give us a call at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, where we are committed to ensuring that your mental health impairments are appropriately recognized and considered in your pursuit of Social Security Disability benefits. Give us a call today for a free consultation at 1-877-JAN-DILS, that’s 1-877-526-3457.
Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law