New law may increase mental health disability coverage

Treatment for a mental disability may not be as predictable as a physical disability. For one, medication options prescribed for mental health conditions may produce different -- or no -- results among otherwise similarly situated patients. Some mental health patients may need to try several different options within a class of medications before finding one that produces results.

To make matters worse, mental health treatments may not always be covered by insurance. If a mental disability impairs or prevents an individual from working, assistance from programs like Social Security disability insurance benefits might help cover some of the wage gap. However, there’s no guarantee that an SSDI application will be improved, an estimated 60 percent of SSDI applicants will see their claims denied.

The federal government has stepped forward to help such disability victims. Under new rules, insurance companies may be required to insure treatments for mental health impairments to the same extent as they would a physical ailment. In a recent press statement, the Health and Human Services Secretary characterized the new approach as establishing parity substance use and mental health disorders. An estimated 62 million Americans could benefit from the new rule.

However, recent media coverage has described some of the obstacles facing users attempting to register on the new health care exchanges. There may be other growing pains associated with the new rule, as execution of the Affordable Care Act is gradually perfected.

Until all of the bugs are fixed, however, individuals suffering from a mental health disability should not wait for benefits or delay filing for SSDI payments. Although the application process can be tough, the bottom line for eligibility is whether a condition prevents an applicant from earning a basic income. If that’s true, an attorney might help a disabled worker prepare a strong SSDI application.

Source:, “Experts praise 'historic' mental health, addiction parity rule,” JoNel Aleccia, Nov. 8, 2013