Putting The Pieces Together

Over 20 Years Served

Mental health disabilities have historically been rarely discussed and often overlooked or misunderstood as a piece of the disability equation in seeking benefits for an individual. However, the last several years have seen some positive changes.

Mr. Fortuño’s work with individuals living with mental health disabilities began when he was working with the Sacramento AIDS Foundation in the early 90’s. Mental health issues were often not the primary focus of a disability diagnosis but mental health issues often arose as cases were being assessed as part of an AIDS diagnosis. Back then AIDS was rapidly killing people in staggering numbers nationwide and mental health disabilities, though present, were often not taken into account. That is not the case today.

Mental health disabilities have been increasingly recognized as a key (and often the central) piece in a new disability diagnosis/benefits case. Mr. Fortuño has seen this most recently working with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Mr. Fortuño & BEC have been giving presentations to NAMI chapters throughout the Greater Bay Area over the past year. These have been in response to the growing need to educate individuals and families about the complexities of mental health disabilities and their critical importance in successfully obtaining benefits.

Acknowledgment and early diagnosis of mental illness is crucial to the success of a Social Security Disability Benefits claim. For young people, getting a determination of the onset of their disability before the age of 22 is especially important. For example, if and when the primary (highest wage earner) working parent retires, becomes disabled or passes away, their adult disabled child (with a diagnosed onset before the age of 22) becomes eligible for a benefit based on the parent’s earnings. Not utilizing this benefit can result in a life-long reality of minimal financial and health coverage.

This is where BEC can be a critical piece of your family's planning. We can help by giving a training presentation to a local organization or by working with individuals through Private Benefits Coaching.


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