Mental illness and Social Security disability benefits

Social Security, the U.S. federal government's safety net for personal support, contains several options for Americans who need or additional income. Although the most common and familiar form of benefit is for retired or aging Americans, people suffering long-term disabilities that prevent them from working, including those diagnosed with mental disorders, are also eligible from Social Security benefits and related aid.

The Blue Book, which outlines administration guidelines for Social Security, contains a section regarding mental disorders under which a person may apply for Social Security benefits. Nine categories - including anxiety, autism, schizophrenia and organic mental defect or retardation - may be evaluated by medical professionals.

Individual requirements apply to these conditions. For example, anxiety must be persistent and severe. Autism must restrict most normal social activities to be considered for benefits. The standard for mental disorders is, in the end, similar to tests for physical problems: they must present a significant restriction on functioning in day-to-day life.

Although Social Security benefits are administered federally, state agencies act as claims adjusters for Social Security at the initial stages. They gather your medical records and may send you to an examination, such as a psychological or psychiatric evaluations

Legal representation is allowed and often recommended in the application or appeal process to allow the best chance for eligible persons to receive Social Security benefits. People with mental conditions may have great difficulty finding their way through the process. Review the guidelines and consider assistance if you are applying on your or someone else's behalf.


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