National Report Finds Those with Mental Illness Have Higher Rates of Chronic Illness

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Allsup outlines importance of Social Security disability benefits for those with severe disability, expert SSDI help for those with multiple impairments

It’s critical that someone seeking Social Security disability benefits have the assistance of a treating physician.

A recent national study has found that adults with a mental illness in the past year have higher rates of certain physical illnesses than others. This finding points to the relevance of multiple conditions that can lead to long-term disability, according to Allsup, which has helped tens of thousands of people to receive their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

The report, Physical Health Conditions among Adults with Mental Illnesses, found that individuals with major depressive episodes experienced higher incidence of impairments such as stroke, heart disease, diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure. The report was issued last month by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In addition, adults with a past-year serious mental illness were nearly twice as likely to have been hospitalized in the past year than those without this history.

“Many people experience mental health and physical illnesses, or multiple physical illnesses, at the same time, often referred to as comorbid conditions,” explained David Bueltemann, manager of senior claimant representatives at Allsup. “At Allsup, we help thousands of people who experience more than one condition that contributes to their inability to work over the long term. They may have a mental health condition in combination with one or more physical conditions.”

Social Security Disability Insurance is a federally mandated disability insurance program overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that operates separately from the retirement and Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) programs. SSDI provides monthly benefits to individuals who are under full retirement age (age 65 or older) and who can no longer work because of a disability (injury, illness or condition) that is expected to last for more than 12 months or is terminal. Individuals must have paid FICA taxes while they were working to be eligible.

Social Security Disability Help
The SSA follows strict criteria when evaluating someone’s claim for Social Security disability benefits, specifically following a five-step sequential evaluation process.

Briefly, these steps include determining if the person is working, or engaged in substantial gainful activity (or SGA); deciding that the disability is severe enough to significantly restrict a person’s ability to perform basic work activities needed for most jobs; determining if the disability meets or equals a medial listing; exploring the person’s ability to perform past work despite their disability; and reviewing the person’s ability to perform any other type of work based on his or her age, education, work experience and physical and mental condition.

“The SSDI evaluation and review process is complex and requires a lot of information,” Bueltemann said. “It’s critical that someone seeking Social Security disability benefits have the assistance of a treating physician.”

A Social Security disability claimant also receives important help through an SSDI representative such as Allsup, Bueltemann added. “Allsup’s disability claims experts know the type of information and detail that the SSA requires in order to evaluate your claim for Social Security benefits,” he said. “We also understand the importance of evaluating and documenting the effects of multiple impairments for someone’s SSDI claim.”

As noted in a 2010 report by the SSA Office of the Inspector General, SSDI representatives are skilled at noticing additional impairments that may have a bearing on an individual’s claim and can assist with further documenting the claimant’s inability to work and qualification for SSDI benefits based on his or her disability.

Find more help by contacting the Allsup Disability Evaluation Center at (800) 678-3276 for a free SSDI evaluation. Allsup specialists can help answer SSDI eligibility and appeals questions.

Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability, Medicare and Medicare Secondary Payer compliance services for individuals, employers and insurance carriers. Founded in 1984, Allsup employs more than 800 professionals who deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. The company is based in Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis. Visit or connect with Allsup at

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Rebecca Ray
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Tai Venuti
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