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Does SSDI cover mental health illnesses?

On Behalf of | Feb 6, 2024 | Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability Insurance covers many different types of mental illnesses. These illnesses are generally referred to as Mental Disorders. They are separated into 11 categories, each of which has its own criteria for an award of benefits.

The space limitations of this blog prevent a complete listing or discussion of each different category. Some of the more common disorders include neurocognitive disorders; schizophrenia; depressive, bipolar and related disorders; and anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

The regulations issued by the Social Security Administration include detailed criteria for judging eligibility for each category, and these should be consulted before applying for SSDI benefits.

Evidence required to prove a claim

The SSDI regulations require objective medical evidence from an acceptable medical source verifying the applicant’s need for SSDI benefits. The SSA will consider all relevant medical evidence from appropriate sources, including physicians, physicians’ assistants, psychiatric nurse practitioners, licensed clinical social workers, and clinical mental health counselors.

Evidence of a mental disorder may include the patient’s reported symptoms, the patient’s medical history, the results of psychological testing and imaging results, a provider’s diagnosis, the type, dosage, and beneficial effects of any medications taken by the applicant.

Generally speaking, the SSA will accept and consider any evidence provided by a reputable source. If the applicant is participating in any work-related vocational training, the SSA will ask for any reports or evaluations prepared by the persons leading such training.

Need for longitudinal evidence

The SSA relies heavily on longitudinal evidence, that is, evidence collected over time, to evaluate the severity of the illness and its effect on the applicant’s ability to function. Even if the applicant cannot provide significant longitudinal evidence, the SSA will look to other sources for evidence that can help in evaluating the applicant’s mental disorder.

Need for professional assistance

The SSDI regulations are lengthy and very detailed. An applicant will benefit from seeking professional assistance in completing an application. The professional assistance can be provided by a psychiatric health care provider or an attorney with experience in understanding the SSDI regulations and the SSA’s approval process.


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