Mental illness can be pervasive and debilitating, with symptoms striking in varying degrees impacting day to day abilities. The ever changing nature of mental illness means a one size fits all approach for diagnosis and treatment is not feasible.
While you can collect social security disability (SSD) for both physical and mental conditions, making a successful mental health claim can be more difficult. With conditions ranging from physiological to neurological, mental health diagnoses have become a catchall diagnosis that could be prohibitive for a SSD claim.
Mental disorders are covered
Under current SSD law, mental disorders can have eligibility for SSD benefits. The SSA has a list of qualifying mental disorders on their website. The listing of impairments is commonly referred to as the "blue book." Common categories include psychotic disorders, depression, anxiety conditions and the autism spectrum disorder.
Who is eligible for mental health SSD?
If your mental illness has persisted for more than a year and prohibits you from participating in gainful activity, you may be eligible. You must be able to prove your mental illness has prevented you from working. Your condition must be medically determinable through various diagnostic techniques. Bear in mind, if your specific condition is not on the above-mentioned list of mental disorders, you still might qualify if you meet certain other requirements, such as if your condition is medically equivalent to something on the list.
Disability examiners do not always fully understand mental illnesses. When symptoms are not currently apparent the examiner may think the illness has been cured, but given the cyclical nature of mental illness the symptoms can reappear in the future or when triggered. Also, the criteria for evaluating mental illness are subjective and examiners may find it difficult to determine if a person meets the requirements.
Having a strong advocate to help you with the application process can sometimes make the difference between a claim being accepted or denied.