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Mental Illness Leading to Extensive Workplace Absences

When people think of workplace illnesses or injuries, many often think of some sort of physical condition that makes working impossible. While there are a number of conditions that can impact workers, mental illnesses may also make it difficult for individuals to remain part of the workforce.

If the condition is serious enough, the person may be eligible to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. These benefits must be approved by the Social Security Administration, which can be a very difficult process.

Each application for benefits must include documentation that establishes that the applicant is suffering from a condition that is listed by the SSA. Without this information, the agency will deny the application, leading to a lengthy appeals process.

For those suffering from a mental illness, such as depression, the process can be much more challenging. Physical conditions have very identifiable symptoms. Mental illnesses are harder to diagnose, and it could take longer for medical professionals to determine what conditions are present.

Little is known about the impact that mental illness has on the workforce. Because of the difficulty in diagnosing the various illnesses, it is difficult to know how many people are currently suffering from a condition that makes working impossible.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that depression, just one possible condition, results in over 200 million missed days of work and costs employers between $17 and 44 billion. The agency also states that depression affects nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population each year.

It is important to understand the process of applying for SSDI benefits. Failing to follow the procedures properly will result in delays, which can have a devastating impact on those who need these benefits to make ends meet.

Source: "Mental Disorders Trigger Long-Term Sick Leave" Rick Nauert, August 1, 2012.

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