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Treating Mental Illness: Can a Missed Diagnosis Lead to Jail Time

Published: 2010-08-19
Author: Richard Sly, Attorney at Law

Synopsis: In some cases, relatively minor offenses arise as the result of mental illness.

Main Digest

In some cases, relatively minor criminal offenses arise as the result of untreated mental illness. Many of these incidents could be avoided with proper treatment.


Countless crimes are committed everyday in the United States. Some of them, by default, are committed by people with some form of mental illness. Some of these disorders are diagnosed, some are not.

In some cases, relatively minor offenses arise as the result of mental illness. An individual may be arrested for trespassing or for being a public nuisance, when the criminal activity is a merely a symptom of a larger problem.

In other cases, a criminal act is a cry for help - some know that the only way they will ever receive the medication and treatment they desperately need is to be incarcerated. These same people are much more likely to commit more crimes after they are released, all in the name of seeking help for their illness.

One thing that these people could have done before resorting to criminal activity and incarceration would have been to seek Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits for the underlying illness. It may be possible under the SSD system to receive financial and medical assistance for a recognized and diagnosed mental disorder.

The SSD benefits system was designed to provide compensation for people who suffer from a mental or physical disability that impairs their daily life functions. Though the ultimate decision on whether or not to award benefits will be made by the Social Security Administration (SSA), awards are based upon analysis of four factors:

Daily living

Social function


-"De-compensation" (withdrawing from situations where you feel stressed or exhibiting extreme reactions - like rage - to everyday stressors)

While benefits can literally be a lifeline for some people, getting those benefits takes time, patience and dedication. Navigating the SSA's benefits system can be difficult without the assistance of a specially trained SSD attorney. To learn more about the application process and the available benefits, speak with a knowledgeable SSD lawyer.

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Cite This Page (APA): Richard Sly, Attorney at Law. (2010, August 19). Treating Mental Illness: Can a Missed Diagnosis Lead to Jail Time. Disabled World. Retrieved January 17, 2022 from