Ask the Orange County Attorneys:
Can I Collect Social Security for Sexual Harassment?
The short answer to this is “yes” – if you suffer from a physical or psychological disability resulting from sexual harassment that makes you unable to work at any job you can collect Social Security Disability (if you have enough work credits) or SSI (if you have limited income & assets).
The “cause” of your physical or psychological condition or illness does not matter for purposes of collecting Social Security Disability or SSI. It also does not matter whose “fault” the injury or illness was. So, physical or psychological disability – including conditions resulting from sexual harassment – are eligible for Social Security if the condition makes you unable to work.
Criteria for Collecting Social Security for Sexual Harassment Injuries
The financial criteria for applying for Social Security Disability and SSI are different. If a person is disabled (which means they cannot do any work) and they can prove financial need (insufficient or no income and less than $2,000 in assets), they may qualify for SSI. If a person is disabled and unable to do any work – and they have “paid into” Social Security through their employment taxes – then they may qualify for Social Security Disability.
However, the definition of disability is the same for purposes of collecting either Social Security Disability or SSI. Social Security must determine that you cannot do work that you did before; you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s); and your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year (or be fatal) to qualify for either Social Security Disability or SSI..
Why It’s Hard to Collect Social Security for Sexual Harassment Injuries
Our experienced Orange County Social Security lawyers understand that sexual harassment can leave long term psychological damage. Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), panic disorders and debilitating anxiety can result from the horror of sexual abuse and harassment.
But while you can collect Social Security for both physical and mental medical conditions, it can be much harder to collect disability for a psychological illness than for a physical illness. This is because the symptoms of psychological illness are harder to “prove”, and the severity of a condition can be hard to measure or quantify.
Unfortunately, disability claims examiners who work for Social Security are not licensed psychiatrists, and as such they do not always understand the full scope of the limitations imposed by certain psychological conditions. Additionally, some disability examiners may be biased against disability claims for psychological disability. Sadly, there are still some Social Security examiners who believe that some disability applicants who claim psychological disability are exaggerating or “faking” their illness to obtain benefits.
Additionally, as recent events in the news have shown us, many men simply do not understand or believe the devastating psychological damage that sexual harassment can have.
Further, there are not objective tests to evaluate the severity of an individual’s psychological condition. So disability examiners base their decisions on the clinical notes of mental health professionals, third-party questionnaires (friends are contacted and asked about the claimant’s condition and normal daily routine), and an ADL (activities of daily living) questionnaire.
For all of these reasons, proving psychological disability – resulting from sexual harassment or from any other cause – can be difficult.
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting Approved for Social Security
To obtain Social Security Disability or SSI for a psychological condition, the two most important things that you can do to improve your chances of getting approved are to have a good doctor and a good attorney. It is important that your anxiety disorder is properly diagnosed, and that you are properly represented.
See a doctor regularly (psychiatrist or psychologist), to let your doctor know how your condition affects you on a daily basis. This will establish a clinical record documenting your condition. Always take the medicine that the doctor prescribes for you and follow all of their recommended treatments. This demonstrates that you are doing everything you can, and still not getting well.
If you are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression or any other psychological or psychiatric condition as a result of a sexual harassment, an experienced attorney can help you present your case, prove your disability, and give you the best chance of collecting Social Security benefits for which you qualify.
We will offer you a free consultation to discuss your Social Security options with an experienced attorney who is familiar with psychological injuries – and who knows “the system” inside and out.
Best Orange County Female Social Security Attorneys
Our lawyers have dedicated their careers to representing disabled individuals. We stand with the many brave women and men who have faced sexual harassment – and we are here to help them collect the benefits they deserve, so they can rebuild their lives.
We also understand that many women who are victims of sexual harassment may be more comfortable discussing their Social Security case with a female attorney. Cantrell Green is proud to have two highly experienced female disability attorneys available to offer you a caring and confidential free consultation.
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment – or any other injury, accident or occurrence – that has resulted in psychological or physical disability, our lawyers are here to help.