More than 5 million Americans with a mental disorder received Social Security benefits related to that condition. Many others, however, have seen their claims denied and fail to see helpful benefits arrive at their house. People should know the basic guidelines for benefits related to mental conditions.
- What mental disorders may qualify a person for Social Security benefits?
Since mental illness is a very individualized disorder, the Social Security Administration (SSA) divides qualifying conditions into nine categories. These include affective disorders, anxiety, autism, organic brain damage, mental retardation, psychoses, personality disorders, sleep problems and substance abuse.
- How does a person with one of these disorders qualify for benefits?
A doctor must certify that a person is suffering from one or more disorders to a level that interferes with normal life or work routines and requirements. A person must also have sought treatment and be complying with physicians’ orders to treat the disorder to qualify for benefits.
- What if the person is unable to apply for benefits on his or her own?
A person might not have the cognitive abilities to apply for benefits during a temporary or permanent mental problem. If this is the case, a person may require a conservator or guardian to be legally appointed to manage their affairs. The conservator or guardian may apply for benefits or challenge their denial.
- Is a lawyer required to apply for benefits?
An attorney is not required for the application process. But a lawyer may help address a claims denial and represent a claimant’s interests during an appeal. No one should suffer from a mental condition alone.