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Qualifying for SSD benefits with a mental health disorder

| Mar 25, 2020 | Social Security Disability

Living with a mental health condition comes with many challenges. With or without treatment, there may be times when a person can hold a job, and others, when continuing to work is not possible. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Social Security Disability benefits may be available for people with mental illnesses. 

Here are some factors that will affect whether a person may qualify. 

Work requirements

Social Security Disability benefits come from payments that people make into the program through their paycheck withholdings. They must have paid into the program for a minimum of five years out of the last 10. The amount of benefits a person receives directly relates to how much he or she has paid. 

A qualifying mental disorder

The SSA has categories of mental disorders that a condition must fall into for a person to qualify. These include neurocognitive, neurodevelopmental, intellectual, autism spectrum and eating disorders.

Other categories of disorders include the following: 

  • Schizophrenia and psychotic disorders 
  • Bipolar, depressive and related disorders 
  • Personality and impulse control disorders 
  • Somatic symptom and related disorders 
  • Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders 
  • Trauma-related disorders 

Evidence of a mental disorder

Relevant medical evidence of the disorder must come from a health care provider such as a doctor, psychologist, clinical social worker, mental health counselor or others. The evidence may include reported symptoms, diagnosis, mental health history, exam and lab results, and medication and side effects. There should also be information regarding how long health care providers expect symptoms to last and how they affect a person’s functionality. 

The SSA will also look at the evidence provided by the applicant, people who know the applicant, employers, educators and others.