How to Fake Mental Illness

Many people wonder if it’s possible to fake mental illness for disability to receive benefits. Our findings shed light on this subject, making it clear that faking a mental disability is not as simple as it might seem. The process is similar to pretending to be a doctor without any medical training, highlighting the difficulty and rarity of successfully faking a disability. The real concern is not pretending to be disabled but rather the abuse and neglect of genuinely disabled people by their families for financial gain.

In this post, we have revealed some of the ways people fake being disabled to get Social Security benefits. This is called malingering. Here is what you need to understand about this situation.


What is the Meaning of Malingering?

Below is a definition according to the National Library of Medicine:

Malingering is falsification or profound exaggeration of illness (physical or mental) to gain external benefits such as avoiding work or responsibility, seeking drugs, avoiding trial (law), seeking attention, avoiding military services, leave from school, paid leave from a job, among others.

Think of kids faking sick to skip school or avoid chores. Sometimes, this continues when they grow up.


Some people might go through painful tests and treatments just to get rewards or escape things they find really hard, all by being dishonest. It is not common, but if it is suspected, it can be tough to prove. But doctors may always be able to question if someone is being truthful.

These benefits are based on real health problems. When someone pretends to be sick, doctors might become doubtful. This doubt could lead to a really sick person being wrongly accused of faking, and they might not get the benefits they need.

To make sure your SSA disability application doesn’t get rejected, you should understand how malingering could work, who can decide if someone is faking illness, and what happens if someone is caught faking.

How to Fake Mental Illness for Disability

How to Fake Mental Illness for Disability


In this section, we discuss the various steps someone can follow to fake mental illness for disability. This will equally help doctors detect when a person might be lying about their condition.

1. Thorough Preparation

Thorough preparation is necessary for anyone trying to fake a mental illness and typically involves not only understanding the specific symptoms and behaviors associated with the illness but also how to demonstrate them convincingly.

It requires careful planning, practice, and attention to detail. One must consider how the illness typically manifests, how it might be diagnosed, and how others might expect a person with that illness to behave. This preparation must extend beyond a single doctor’s visit and include consistent behavior over time. This is no mean feat, and it requires significant effort and commitment. The risk of detection is high, and the consequences of being caught can be severe.

2. Understand What Disability Means

One also has to understand what is legally considered a disability to fake mental illness for disability benefits. The con artist will typically know the difference between physical and cognitive impairments and how they are classified under the law.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities. Understanding these definitions helps in choosing an illness that might be easier to fake and aligns with legal criteria.

It also involves understanding how disabilities are assessed and what evidence might be required to support a claim. This knowledge is essential for creating a convincing facade and navigating the legal and medical systems that evaluate disability claims.

3. Choosing the Right Illness

We detailed an article on the easiest illnesses to fake for disability benefits that people often take up. The right illness to fake is a complex decision that requires careful consideration of various factors. Cognitive impairments might be easier to fake than physical ones, as they often rely more on self-reported symptoms and behaviors.

The choice might also depend on personal circumstances, such as age, occupation, and lifestyle. Some illnesses might be more believable or easier to fake for certain individuals. Also, what qualifies as the easiest illness to fake is a matter of personal preference. This decision requires a deep understanding of different illnesses, their symptoms, and how they are diagnosed and treated. It also involves considering the risks and challenges associated with faking each illness and weighing them against the potential benefits.

4. Deep Research

This step involves studying the specific symptoms, treatments, and typical behaviors associated with the chosen illness. It requires understanding how the illness is diagnosed, what tests might be performed, and what questions a doctor might ask.

Research might also include studying firsthand accounts of people with the illness, medical literature, and other resources. This knowledge helps in demonstrating the illness convincingly and responding to questions and assessments in a way that aligns with medical understanding. Research is not just about lying to a doctor but about understanding the illness deeply enough to pretend to have it consistently over time. This research is a critical foundation for the entire endeavor and requires significant time and effort.

5. Consistent Acting

Faking mental illness for disability will involve not only demonstrating symptoms during a doctor’s visit but also behaving consistently with the illness over time. This might include avoiding certain activities, using specific aids or devices, or interacting with others in a way that aligns with the illness.

The acting must be convincing and consistent across different contexts and over an extended period. This requires careful planning, practice, and attention to detail. It also involves managing the risk of detection by others who might observe inconsistencies or question the authenticity of the illness. Note that this is more about acting and pretending than anything else, and it requires significant effort and skill.

6. Understand the Risks Associated with Fake Mental Illness for Disability

One needs to understand the risks involved in faking mental illness, which is a critical aspect of the endeavor. This includes not only the legal risks but also the potential social, professional, and personal consequences.

Being caught faking a mental illness can lead to legal prosecution, loss of benefits, damage to reputation, and other negative outcomes. For example, members of an Arlington family faked mental disabilities for years to collect Social Security money, but they were arrested when undercover agents followed them and saw what they were up to, according to The Dallas Morning News.

This is a serious and risky endeavor that should not be undertaken lightly. It requires careful consideration of the potential consequences and a willingness to accept the risks involved. This understanding of the risks also informs other aspects of the process, such as choosing the illness to fake, planning and preparation, and ongoing behavior. It is a constant consideration that shapes the entire endeavor and adds to its complexity and challenge.

7. Consider Age and Circumstances

Some illnesses might be more believable or easier to fake at certain ages or under specific circumstances. For example, faking Alzheimer’s might require acting as if one is in their 40s or 50s, as occurrences before the age of 65 are considered early and might raise suspicion.

Other illnesses might be more or less believable depending on occupation, lifestyle, family history, or other factors. This consideration requires a deep understanding of the chosen illness and how it typically manifests in different individuals. It also involves careful planning and consideration of how to demonstrate the illness in a way that aligns with personal circumstances.

How Doctors Can Spot Malingering (Fake Mental Illness for Disability)

Even if you can usually get Social Security disability insurance, certain behaviors might make people think you are faking disability. These actions, even if you do not mean any harm, are seen as warning signs because some people have used them to cheat the SSA:

  • Not cooperating during a physical check-up.
  • Describing symptoms that have legal implications or relate to both law and medicine.
  • Talking about getting disability benefits with your doctor before it’s clear that you really need them.
  • Saying you have severe pain all the time, even if your medical history and how you live don’t match up with that level of pain.
  • It seems like you’re not giving your best during tests to see how much you can do physically or mentally.
  • Asking for a specific drug, especially if it’s a strong one like a narcotic.
  • Saying you’re stressed, but doctors don’t find strong proof of it.
  • Not following the treatment plan recommended by the doctor.
  • Patients thinking about whether something is worth the cost or benefits.

It is best to be truthful about your symptoms when visiting your doctor. Even if it seems like they are not understanding your pain, do not make it seem worse than it is to avoid problems with disability fraud.

If you are worried your doctor is not treating you right, think about asking another doctor for their thoughts instead of exaggerating your situation. If you feel your needs are not being met, there are better ways to address them than to fake being sicker than you are.

What Does it Mean to Fake Being Sick When You Already Have a Mental Health Issue?

For instance, someone with “factitious disorder” might be called a person who constantly pretends to be sick. People with this disorder truly have a mental problem. They intentionally make themselves ill and go through painful tests or treatments because they really want attention.

On the other hand, “somatoform disorder” happens when someone with a mental disorder thinks their symptoms are real, even though they might seem like nerve or body problems. Sometimes, when the person is extremely stressed, their symptoms can get worse suddenly. This can lead to experiences like not being able to move or see. It’s thought that emotional stress somehow turns into physical symptoms.

People with factitious disorder or somatoform disorder can get Social Security disability benefits. This is mentioned in Section 12.07 of the Social Security rules for mental disorders.

If your problems come from these disorders, you are not just pretending to be sick. Social Security disability benefits can still help you, as mental health issues are also considered for these benefits.

Who Can Decide If Someone Is Malingering?

The problem is that it is not easy to know exactly when someone is faking mental illness for disability and if it is happening at that moment. Figuring out when someone is trying to cheat the system, usually for money, by pretending to be sick can be really hard.

These are the people who might notice strange behavior or figure out if someone is pretending to be sick:

  • Your own doctor
  • Other medical professionals who have treated you or looked at your condition
  • The doctor that the SSA sends you to for a checkup
  • An SSA person who is looking at your application
  • A judge who is listening to your appeal

Even though SSA officials and judges are supposed to make decisions based on what doctors say, they have some leeway when doctors disagree. You might be able to change a decision if you use this. For instance, a letter from your doctor that’s backed up by solid medical proof might help you overturn an initial rejection.

Test for Malingering

Before 2012, people who were thought to be pretending to be sick took tests to see if they were really faking their disabilities. The two main tests used were:

  1. Test of Memory Malingering (TOMM)
  2. Rey Memory Test

But these tests are not trusted anymore because the results can’t really prove if someone is faking or not. So, they are not used for deciding if someone is faking being sick.

How to Prove a Mental Disability

When you have a health problem, you might go to different doctors and specialists for help. These doctors can write reports that support your case. They can include information from:

  • Your main doctor
  • A psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist you see the hospital near you
  • Other places that help with mental health
  • People who take care of you

The Social Security Administration (SSA) might want you to see a specific doctor they approve of. But it’s still important to keep seeing your regular doctor. The information they give can also be useful for your situation.

Contact Information You Must Provide in Your Mental Health Claim

When you ask for disability help, you need to tell the SSA how to reach your doctor. This means giving them:

  • The doctor or hospital’s name
  • Where they are located
  •  Their phone number
  • If possible, your patient ID

If our attorneys are helping you, they can also suggest other things that might help your case. If you don’t give this contact information, the person reviewing your case won’t see your diagnosis, test results, treatment plan, how things went, or details about your medicine.

What Mental Disabilities Qualify for Social Security Benefits?

The SSA makes a book called the Blue Book that lists health problems you need to have to get help. Part 12 – Mental Disorders in this book talks about what you need to get help because of mental issues.

Some mental health problems that can get you help include:

  • Struggling with eating
  • Being on the autism spectrum
  • Brain problems that affect thinking
  • Feeling really bad after a scary experience
  • Problems like Overview. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that make you do things over and over
  • Conditions like schizophrenia that change your thoughts
  • Issues with how your brain works

The Social Security people will check your medical proof and what you wrote in your application. They want to make sure you match the rules in one of these lists.

How the SSA Evaluates Your RFC

The SSA can check how well you can work in 3 ways:

  1. A doctor from their office looks at your medical papers and what you said in your application.
  2. Your own doctor fills out a form telling them what you can do with your health issues.
  3. They might send you to a doctor they pay for to see how well you can work.

Any of these ways can help them figure out what kind of job you can do, how much you can work, and for how long.

You Can Get SSI and SSDI for a Mental Illness

The SSA has two disability programs: SSI and SSDI. Both can help people with mental health issues get benefits.

  • For SSDI, you need work credits from jobs that paid Social Security taxes to be eligible.
  • For SSI, work credits don’t matter. Your eligibility is based on your assets. If you’re not married, you can’t have more than $2,000 in assets to qualify.

Ultimately, when you team up with a disability lawyer who supports people with disabilities, you can deal with the Social Security Disability application and appeals process. If you are accused of faking mental illness for disability, you might need a lawyer who specializes in Social Security disability in your state.

Read alsoHow to Make a Fake Doctors Note for Work, School [Looks Real]

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