Understanding mental conditions that may qualify for disability

Social Security Disability benefits may be available for both physical and mental medical conditions. In general, qualifying for SSD benefits requires that the applicant suffers from a medical condition that is expected to continue 12 months or longer or result in death. In addition, the medical condition must be severe enough that the applicant is prevented from working and earning and income because of it. The work history of the applicant is also be taken into account when applying for SSD benefits, however, if the applicant is low income but does not have sufficient work history, that may not be the end of the story. Additional options, such as through Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, may be available to applicants in the latter situation.

Applying for SSD benefits based on a mental condition is like applying for disability benefits based on any medical condition. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), when considering an application for disability based on a mental condition factors that will be considered include documentation of the medically determined condition; evaluation of the degree to which the mental condition limits the applicant’s ability to work; and if the mental condition, and the limitations it imposes on the applicant, are expected to last for a continuous 12-month period or longer.

There are nine diagnostic categories of mental illness conditions that the SSA utilizes when evaluating an application for disability based on a mental condition. The categories include organic mental disorders; schizophrenic, paranoid and other psychotic disorders; affective disorders; intellectual disability; anxiety-related disorders; somatoform disorders; personality disorders; substance addiction disorders; and autistic disorders and some other types of developmental disorders.

When filing for disability benefits based on a mental condition or mental illness, it is important to have knowledge of, and understand, the qualifying mental conditions for receipt of benefits. At times, the SSD process can seem overwhelming, complex and convoluted which is why the more knowledgeable the applicant is concerning the process, the better prepared the applicant will be to apply for what are often much-needed disability benefits.

Source: Social Security Administration, “Disability Evaluation Under Social Security 12.00 Mental Disorders – Adult,” Accessed Oct. 29, 2014


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