Despite the shrinking number of state mental health facilities, the government does offer other forms of help for Americans who suffer from mental illnesses. The Social Security Administration does offer disability benefits for mental illness; however, getting benefits for mental illness is not as easy as getting benefits for a physical disability, but it is possible. SSA should recognize your claim if you have any mental disorder that prevents you from working and is expected to last at least a year. You usually must jump through many hoops for the support that you need. But do not give up if the claim is denied at first. Get a good attorney and go on to recover benefits through the appeals process.
The Social Security Administration’s Mental Disorder Listings
Social Security Disability (SSD) helps millions of Americans who are unable to work continue to receive a living wage. The SSA lists 11 broad categories of Mental health disorders that may qualify for disability payments.
Following are the 11 included categories:
- Neuro-cognitive Disorders – This category includes disorders like dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s disease, traumatic brain injury, brain tumors, and more.
- Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disroders – These disorders often involve symptoms such as catatonia, social withdrawal, the inability to achieve goals, and disorganized thoughts, speech, or behavior. If these disorders are severe enough to affect your work, you may qualify for disability.
- Depression and Related Disorders – These disorders include feelings of depression, loss of interest or pleasure, hopelessness, guilt, suicidal thoughts, and physical effects including changes in weight, appetite, sleep, and energy.
- Intellectual Disorders – Severe learning problems, inability to adapt, poor understanding, poor social skills, and poor practical skills often characterize these disorders.
- Anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disoders – These disorders are characterized by anxiety, worry, fear, obsessions, fatigue, and panic attacks
- Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders – Symptoms include preoccupation with having a physical illness, discomfort, fatigue, and anxiety about your health, as well as physical symptoms that are not faked but have no medical explanation.
- Personality and Impulse-Control Disorders – This category includes disorders like paranoid disorder, schizoid disorder, schizotypal disorder, borderline disorder, and others.
- Autism Spectrum Disorder – People with autism usually have at least some problems with social interaction, communication, understanding symbolism, social or mental development, cognitive skills, unusual behaviors, unusual responses to stimuli, and many other possible symptoms.
- Neuro-developmental Disorders –The symptoms of these disorders include problems developing or learning, often brought about by abnormal vision, hearing, motor skills, and other processes.
- Eating Disorders – Symptoms of eating disorders include constant worrying about your body shape, weight, or size. People with these disorders often have episodes of high-volume eating or little to no eating and may vomit or perform excessive exercise to prevent weight gain.
- Trauma and Stress Disorders – These disorders may have similar results to obsessive-compulsive disorders and neurological disorders, but they are often caused by some significantly traumatic event or because of extreme stress. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the most common of these disorders.
Qualifying For SSD With A Mental Illness
Often, demonstrating your disorder and its severity are the hardest steps toward qualifying for Social Security Disability. If you face a listed disability, you do not automatically qualify for disability benefits. You must first have your doctor or psychiatrist file paperwork that demonstrates how severe your condition is. The SSA considers a disorder severe enough to qualify for disability if it affects your daily life so much that you cannot perform work activities. This does not require that your disorder should require institutionalization or round-the-clock care. Instead, like physical disabilities, mental disabilities can be severe enough to prevent you from working without requiring constant hospitalization or supervision. You need to prove you can’t do the work you used to do. And you will need to prove that you can’t be trained for different work. And the illness needs to be a long term one. Even if your disorder is not on this list, you may still qualify for Social Security.
When deciding whether to file a Social Security Disability claim or after receiving a denial, you may consider hiring a lawyer to represent you in your claim. In fact, claimants with legal representation have much better approval rates than claimants who undertake the process themselves.
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