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Individuals dealing with mental health issues in Illinois can apply for benefits from the Social Security Administration’s disability program. Benefits may help to alleviate the strain brought about by an inability to get or keep a job due to mental illness.

Recognized types of mental illnesses

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 26.2 percent of adults in the U.S. have a diagnosable mental disorder each year. The number of individuals with severe mental disorders is smaller, at just less than 6 percent.

While workers’ compensation claims involving traumatic or repetitive injuries may be fairly straightforward, claims involving occupational diseases are often complicated. The Illinois Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act gives Illinois employees the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits for occupational diseases caused by their jobs. However, identifying these illnesses and proving they are work-related is not always easy. 

Occupational diseases may be caused by exposure to chemicals, heat, radiation, noise and other environmental conditions. When many people think of occupational diseases, they think of conditions such as lung cancer, but conditions that are not usually considered diseases, such as hearing loss, also qualify. Obtaining compensation for occupational diseases can be difficult because many of these conditions can arise from other causes, such as personal habits and environmental exposure.

Determining disease origins

Every year, many Illinois workers incur injuries that allow them to receive compensation under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. An employee is able to acquire benefits under this legislation regardless of whether the accident was the fault of the employee or the employer. However, in some cases, the fault lies not within either of these parties but with another entity or person. When this happens, the injured employee can file a third-party lawsuit against this person or entity.

Examples of third-party lawsuits

There are several different situations in which an employee could suffer injuries that would justify filing a third-party lawsuit.  Some of these include:

A person does not have to have an accident or suffer some trauma in order to sustain an injury. There is a large group of medical conditions, known as repetitive injuries, which are the result of the wear and tear on the body caused by repetitive motion or activity. Common symptoms of these injuries include pain, weakness, stiffness and numbness.

Repetitive injuries, also referred to as musculoskeletal disorders, can be caused by any number of activities. While they are regularly seen in athletes and musicians, repetitive injuries are also common in the workplace. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that these disorders made up 34 percent of all work-related injury and illness cases in 2012.

Types of repetitive injuries

A mental illness is a disease that causes mild to severe disturbances in a person’s thoughts and behaviors. There are over 200 types of classified mental illnesses. However, some of the most common include depression, bipolar disorder, dementia and anxiety.  Mental illness symptoms vary by person and may include changes in mood, personal habits and personality. 

Mental illness’ effect on workers 

Mental illnesses can interfere with an Illinois employee’s capacity to perform the daily requirements of their job. For example, a mental illness may affect an employee’s ability to concentrate, handle pressure, multi-task, remain energized throughout the day, interact with others, respond to changes and filter out distracting sights, sounds and stimuli.

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