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Mental illness may qualify for disability benefits

On Behalf of | Apr 21, 2021 | Social Security Disability

Individuals who have a disability that prevents them from working may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits to help cover their expenses. When it comes to disabilities, many people think only of physical ones. 

However, mental issues can also be disabilities. In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, an individual must be eligible for the program and prove the mental illness caused a long-term disability. 

Basics of SSDI eligibility

According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, one of the important eligibility requirements for receiving disability benefits is a work history. The applying individual needed to work at a job in which he or she paid Social Security taxes. There are also requirements in regard to the length and recentness of the employment. 

The applicant must also meet the Social Security Administration’s criteria for disability. This is often more difficult to prove with a mental health condition than a physical one. 

Common categories of mental illness

The AARP discusses that the SSA has a manual that lists qualifying mental disorders. Some of them, such as autism, developmental disabilities and dementia, are not generally considered mental health conditions. Some of the other categories listed in the manual include: 

  • Psychotic disorders 
  • Eating disorders   
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders and anxiety 
  • Bipolar and depression 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder 
  • Somatic symptom disorders 

How to prove disability

If an individual has one of the listed mental health conditions, it is often easier to prove disability, but it takes evidence. This includes treatment history, detailed medical records and testimonies from healthcare providers, former coworkers, friends and family members.  

The SSA examines this evidence to see how the condition affects the person’s ability to work, such as the ability to interact with others, understand and apply information and manage behavior. There must also be proof that the condition is a permanent disability, meaning it will be present for a minimum of one year or may lead to death.