Why Is My Social Security Attorney Trying To Get Me To Go To A Psychiatrist?

Jun 30, 2011 Comments Off on Why Is My Social Security Attorney Trying To Get Me To Go To A Psychiatrist? by

Question: Why is my Social Security attorney trying to get me to go to a psychiatrist?

Answer: First, no Social Security attorney with any sense is trying to get ALL of his or her clients to go to a psychiatrist but any Social Security attorney with any sense tries to get some of his or her clients to go to a psychiatrist.

It’s a given that virtually all Social Security disability claimants display some symptoms of psychiatric disorder. It’s not hard to understand why. Take someone out of work, away from their normal routine, away from their workplace friends, deprive them of the self-esteem that comes from working, make them unable to support themselves and their families, cause them to worry about money all the time, put them in pain, make them go to endless doctor appointments where they keep hearing things they don’t understand and make them deal with a huge government agency that seems heartless and incomprehensible, well, what can you expect? Of course, someone in this situation is going to get depressed. That’s not abnormal.

The fact that a person’s depression is a perfectly understandable reaction to a difficult situation does not make that depression any less real. Often, it is sensible to treat that depression. Often, getting treatment for that depression will help a Social Security disability claim — but only if it makes sense for that person to get treatment. Sending you to a psychiatrist if you don’t really need psychiatric treatment isn’t going to help your case — or you — a bit.

Of course, there are others filing for Social Security disability benefits whose mental illness long preceded any Social Security disability claim. Many people with serious, longstanding psychiatric problems resist getting psychiatric treatment. These folks are not going to get on Social Security disability benefits without getting psychiatric treatment. As I often tell my clients who are refusing to get in psychiatric treatment , Social Security’s unspoken question is likely to be “If you’re so disabled by mental illness, why don’t you go see a psychiatrist?”  If you don’t have a good answer to that question, you probably need to see a psychiatrist. In fact, even if you THINK you have a good answer to that question, you probably need to see a psychiatrist because the answer you THINK is good, probably isn’t.

The bottom line is this. Whenever I refer a client to a psychiatrist, almost always someone else in that person’s life, someone who knows that person a lot better than I ever will,  has already been trying to get them to go to a psychiatrist. Often, I have a client and one of their family sitting in front of me. The client is literally shaking their head “no” while their family member is nodding their head “yes” when I’m talking about the client getting in psychiatric care. If you find yourself in this situation, listen to your attorney but also listen to the people who love you. Probably, the attorney and the people who love you will be in agreement on this subject.

Attorney Posts

About the author

Charles Hall is the lead attorney for the Charles Hall Law Firm in Raleigh, NC. He has been practicing in the Social Security Disability law field since 1979, is published, and is ready to help new clients win their benefits in North Carolina.