Mental Health Conditions and Social Security Disability

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 1 of every 25 American adults suffers from a mental illness that is so severe that it significantly interferes with their major life activities and ability to perform substantial gainful activity (work).

While Americans who suffer from mental health conditions like emotional, psychological. cognitive or psychiatric disorders can obtain Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits if their condition is determined to be severe enough and they meet other requirements, doing so can be extremely difficult. Although some individuals are able to begin receiving monthly benefits in a matter of weeks, others wait many months, and even years. Sadly, some even repeat the application process over and over without ever achieving a successful outcome.

What Mental Disorders Qualify For Social Security Disability

When a Social Security disability examiner evaluates an individual’s condition, he or she will first refer to the “blue book”, which is Social Security’s official listing of qualifying impairments. While Social Security recognizes that anyone suffering from one or more of the listed conditions is unable to work, the examiner must determine if the characteristics of the person’s condition meet the severity requirements listed. Mental disorders listed include, but are not limited to:

  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Schizophrenia
  • Autism
  • Mental Retardation

Even when an individual’s condition is not listed in the blue book, he or she may still be able to qualify for Social Security Disability. In order to do so, he or she must prove that the mental condition is so severe that it prevents gainful work activities and is expected to last a period of 12 months or more.

Evidence Supporting a Claim for Social Security Disability With a Mental Disorder

In order to support a claim for disability, it is essential that individuals maintain records of any information that may help with the claim including:

  • Medical records of all types (including hospital stays, emergency room visits, etc.)
  • Evidence supporting attendance at doctor appointments, individual therapy or group therapy sessions
  • Evidence showing he or she is complying (or attempting to comply) with recommended treatment
  • Work history and information about any work attempts made
  • Statements from anyone who is familiar with the individual’s condition and how it affects the person’s abilities
  • Any other supporting evidence that a social security disability attorney familiar with the case recommends