Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a psychological condition in which a person has two or more distinct personalities. Those personalities must “take over” at times. Many people with DID are able to function quite well and work at a number of jobs. However, DID can be disabling for some people. If other personalities come out on a regular basis, especially if they are child personalities and if the person has limited control over this switching, it can create difficulty in the workplace. People with DID may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if they are unable to work due to their condition.
Talk to your doctor about whether or not your condition prevents you from working and how long you should expect to be unable to work. People can only qualify for SSDI if their symptoms are expected to prevent them from working for at least one year.
Be very specific about how your symptoms prevent you from working when filling out forms for Social Security. Be aware that the person assessing your claim may not be familiar with DID. If someone applies for SSDI for schizophrenia, the person assessing the claim may not know a lot about that condition but they’ve probably heard of it before. They probably know that people with schizophrenia sometimes hear voices and can probably imagine how that might make it difficult to maintain employment. But they may have never even heard of DID before and may have no idea how it would interfere with the ability to work.
Ask your doctor, therapist, and any other health care providers to be very specific about your symptoms and how they prevent you from working in your medical records and in any paper they are asked to complete by Social Security, as well.
If you have other diagnoses in addition to DID, be sure to include them on your paperwork and be sure your health care professionals include them in the information they send to Social Security. For instance, many people with DID also suffer from things like major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Social Security has a list of conditions that might be disabling with specific criteria they use to determine if a person is disabled by those conditions. DID is not included on that list. If you can demonstrate that your DID is as disabling as one of those conditions, you can still qualify for SSDI. However, it may just be easier to demonstrate that you are disabled by something like depression or PTSD, if you also have one of those conditions.
Collect as much information as you can about your condition. Contact all doctors, counselors, hospitals, clinics, emergency rooms, and other health care providers that have treated you for mental health issues and request copies of your records. Social Security will request copies of your records for you, but they usually only request the most recent ones. However, they are required to consider all the information you send them, so if you send them copies of your old records, those will factor into the decision about whether or not you qualify for disability. Make sure they have all the relevant information.
Be aware that if Social Security feels they do not have enough information about your condition to make a decision, they may ask you to undergo an examination by a doctor of their choosing. This would probably be a psychiatrist. Social Security will pay for this examination. The problem is that some doctors are not very familiar with DID and some don’t even believe it exists. If you are applying for disability due to DID and you have to be examined by a doctor that doesn’t believe in DID, chances are he or she will not report that you are disabled.
If you must see a doctor chosen by Social Security, ask that doctor during your appointment what his or her opinion is about DID. If the doctor doesn’t believe in DID, knowing that may help you if you get turned down and have to appeal. Make sure you explain your symptoms thoroughly to the doctor and make sure you explain any symptoms of other conditions like depression or PTSD that you may have. You can also take a letter from your treating physician or therapist with you to the appointment that lists your diagnoses and your symptoms.
Social Security Administration. http://www.ssa.gov/pgm/links_disability.htm. Social Security Disability Insurance Program.
Disability Secrets. http://www.disabilitysecrets.com/tips.html. Tips for Getting Social Security Disability Insurance.