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How SSDI can help those with mental illness

When many people think of disability coverage from Social Security, they think of someone who cannot work due to a physical injury or impairment. However, SSDI also covers many people whose ability to work is affected by mental illness. SSA looks at both physical and mental health when evaluating a claim.

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about SSDI coverage and mental illness.

The general categories of mental illnesses covered by SSDI include, but are not limited to:

  • Neurocognitive disorders
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Conditions on the schizophrenia spectrum
  • Depressive and bipolar disorders
  • Intellectual disorders
  • Anxiety and OCD
  • Personality and impulse-control disordersDisorders on the autism spectrum
  • Eating disorders
  • Trauma and stressor-related disorders (ex. PTSD)

To qualify for SSDI because of a mental illness or impairment, the Social Security Administration requires a diagnosis from a medical or psychiatric professional.

What other evidence does the SSA consider for mental conditions?

The SSA focuses on someone’s “daily functioning” - their ability to carry out activities of daily life as well as function in work and social settings.   The most important evidence in mental health cases, much like other cases, is the medical records.  Because most mental health conditions are not able to be diagnosed with an objective test (ex. X-ray, blood test, etc.), SSA looks at a claimant’s longitudinal course of care with a mental health care professional.  Many gainfully employed people suffer from some form of mental illness.  What is different about the claimant’s that meet SSA’s definition of disability are they typically have limitations that markedly impair their abilities in the areas of:

  • Understand, Remember, and Apply Information
  • Interacting with Others (supervisors, co-workers, and the public)
  • Concentrate, Persist, and Maintain Pace
  • Adapt and Manage Oneself

Ask a professional to evaluate your case

The SSDI application process can be stressful and complicated. However, even if your initial application is denied, an experienced SSDI attorney can help you advocate for the benefits you need.

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