Many people applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits have mental disabilities.

Mental health problems can impair a person’s functioning, causing crippling anxiety and stress, which is often exacerbated by the inability to work or form social connections. They often become isolated, which worsens their anxiety and can result in an applicant becoming too nervous to appear at his or her own SSDI or SSI hearing.

Generally, when a “no-show” occurs, the person’s claim is denied. That is why I was extremely gratified recently when a client was awarded SSI benefits despite his failure to appear for the hearing.

This applicant had severe mental impairments, including schizophrenia, which caused him to be unable to work. These same problems also made him too anxious to attend his hearing. I moved forward with his case anyway, armed with a detailed legal brief which I prepared well ahead of time. The brief identified the client’s medical history, medical record and the areas where he met Social Security’s requirements. I presented all of his medical records to the judge, in addition to cross-examining Social Security’s independent psychiatrist, thus proving my client’s impaired condition. After a review of all the facts, the presiding judge approved the claim despite my client’s absence.

The fact that this claimant and others like him sometimes fail to appear for their hearings is further evidence of the misrepresentations made by some politicians about fraud in the SSDI system. Those people who do not appear are likely to be seriously disabled and unable to get themselves out of their homes, despite it being in their best interests to do so.

In this case the disability was invisible, but I was still able to identify it thanks to the preparation we put into this case and our ability to cross-examine Social Security’s independent psychiatrist effectively. That is why hiring the right disability lawyer can make an enormous difference in the outcome. I am very glad that my client’s absence was not enough of a reason to deny his claim. Finally, an individual greatly in need of social security disability benefits will receive them.