Gender identity disorder (also called gender dysphoria and colloquially known as transgenderism) is a condition characterized by the affected person feeling as though his or her gender identity and biological sex does not match. Although some people with this condition experience crippling emotional and mental disabilities related to comorbid issues, gender identity disorder itself does not make a person eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Here's more information about this issue and an alternative way you may be able to get money from the SSD program.
Reason for Disability Benefits Denial
There are two reasons why gender identity disorder is not recognized as a disability. First, the condition is not recognized by the American Disability Act (ADA) as a disability. Although SSD and the ADA serve different purposes, the two programs do inform each other when it comes to determining which disabilities are covered.
The second and primary reason is for a condition to be covered under SSD, it must prevent the sufferer from working enough to support his- or herself. For instance, a quadriplegic's condition severely limits the type of work—if any—he or she can do. In this case, the individual would be eligible for benefits because his or her physical limitations have a significantly negative impact on the person's ability to obtain and maintain gainful employment.
Gender identity disorder itself does not cause physical or mental disabilities severe enough to impact a person's ability to work. Therefore, a person with the condition would not be eligible for benefits if this was the only issue he or she suffered from.
Other Conditions May Be Eligible
A person with gender identity disorder may qualify for SSD because of comorbid conditions that develop alongside, or as the result of, being transgender. People who have gender identity disorder tend to suffer from depression, anxiety, and similar mental illnesses because of the experiences they have living as transgender individuals.
For example, 44 percent of transgender teens experienced physical abuse and 67 percent were bullied online. As a result of these types of incidents, they are more likely to be depressed. Depression can negatively impact a person's ability to maintain employment; therefore, you may be eligible for social security disability payments if your depression is severe enough to prevent you from working.
Qualifying for SSD Based on Mental Illnesses
While mental illnesses are covered under SSD, it can be harder to obtain benefits for them when compared to getting money for a physical condition. This is because it is sometimes more difficult to assess the impact a mental illness has on a person's ability to work. Additionally, some disorders do not lend themselves to easy evaluations.
For example, some conditions—such as bipolar disorder—are cyclical in nature, and a person's ability to be productive may change depending on where they are in the cycle. The SSA requires claimants to prove their conditions will last a minimum of 12 months. If you're only disabled for a total of 6 months out of the year, the agency will deny your claim on that basis.
To prove your case, you'll need to submit a battery of evidence supporting your claim including:
- Medical records and treatment notes from your healthcare providers
- Psychiatric or neurological tests supporting your diagnosis
- The Activities of Daily Living questionnaire that shows how your condition impacts your life
- Residual functional capacity (RFC) forms from your healthcare providers describing your ability to function
- Information from third parties such as social workers that may help your case
You may also be required to undergo an exam conducted by someone at the Social Security Administration or referred to a third-party for further evaluation.
If you have mental illnesses stemming from a gender identity disorder that have a serious impact on your ability to work, it's a good idea to consult with a social security disability attorney who can assist you in navigating the system and successfully obtaining monetary benefits that can help you support yourself.
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