People who suffer from mental disorders or have a family member who suffers from one of these disorders are often unaware that the Social Security Disability Insurance program provides benefits if the illness meets SSDI eligibility requirements. Also, the process of applying for SSDI benefits for a mental or emotional disorder is complicated by the fact that these conditions rarely have any visible manifestation or any reliable medical diagnostic procedure that can be used to verify the existence of the condition. Nevertheless, the Social Security Administration recognizes several mental conditions as eligible for SSDI benefits.

As with all qualifying illnesses or injuries, a mental condition must be deemed to be permanent or to cause death within 12 months. The illness or condition must also render the patient totally and permanently disabled. These conditions are usually proved with written opinions from the medical provided and employment records. The list of mental impairments that may qualify a person for SSDI benefits is set out in full in the SSA’s Blue Book, a compendium of all illnesses and injuries and medical conditions that may qualify a person for SSDI benefits.

The following conditions are representative of the various mental health disorders that have been recognized by the SSA as being inherently disabling, i.e., preventing the applicant from engaging in substantial gainful activity. These conditions include schizophrenia, autistic disorders, mental retardation, depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. If the applicant believes that he or she suffers from a qualifying condition but that medical evidence may be insufficient, the SSA may be willing to pay for a mental consultative exam to verify the extent of the illness and any resulting disability.

Anyone who is interested in seeking SSDI benefits for a mental health disorder may wish to consult an attorney who is experienced in handling such claims. A knowledgeable lawyer can assist in collecting medical and employment evidence, completing the application and assisting with an appeal if the initial application should be denied.