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What mental illnesses qualify an individual for SSD benefits?


There are a variety of mental illnesses that are recognized by the Social Security Administration as qualification to receive long-term disability. To qualify for a mental disability, the condition you have must be diagnosed by a doctor and also meet the criteria listed in the Blue Book such as these qualifications:

  • The mental disability you have should prevent you from performing any work that you have previously been able to perform
  • Your mental disorder must be severe where you can’t be trained for any other areas at your job that may be available for you during your time of disability
  • Your mental disability should be expected to be long term, which means it should be at least a year

For mental health, the criteria are the same as other disabilities no matter if you are applying for SSDI or SSI. The Social Security Administration has put mental disorders in multiple categories that may be considered a disability under SSA.

  • Organic disorders: This mental disorder can be anything from dementia, delirium, or anything mentally that affects the nervous system, such as Alzheimer’s.
  • Psychotic disorders: Anything from paranoia and schizophrenia can be in this category. Sometimes, these disorders can automatically qualify you for SSD as soon as you are diagnosed. This is referred to as Compassionate Allowance, which is where you can start SSD as soon as possible.
  • Affective disorders: Depression and bipolar are mood disorders that are not directly a result of any brain abnormalities that can be placed under this category.
  • Mental retardation: This is a learning disorder that most qualify for under SSD
  • Anxiety related disorders: Anything that is continuous or episodic anxiety can be a qualification to receive SSD benefits if it is proven that you are not capable for daily functional activities. Phobias, abnormal fears, and panic attacks are also considered under this category as well.
  • Somatoform disorders: Having any symptoms of sickness that have no visible cause, only because of your mental disorder can be considered somatoform.
  • Personality disorders: There are a lot of mental illnesses that are placed under this category because it is defined by any abnormal behaviors that are not socially acceptable. Some typical personality disorders can be passive-aggressive disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • Substance addiction disorders: Alcoholism and drug addiction are both listed under this category. Narcotics as well as prescription medications are including in drug addiction.
  • Autistic/ Pervasive developmental disorders: Anything that affects your cognitive skills, behavior, social skills, or communication is placed under this mental disability category.

These are the most important mental disorders, but the list is not fully complete. Basically, any mental disorder that leaves you unable to perform work that you were once able to can be considered under the SSD benefits. Diagnosing people with mental disorders can be subjective, so it may be time consuming and at times, difficult, to get approved for SSD benefits based on your mental disorder. It will be in your benefit to have a journal or notes that describe your mental condition and the symptoms you have on the daily basis. You should focus on how your mental illness affects your daily life at home and more importantly, at work. Your case will be determined based on how much of your life has been affected because of this.

It is in your best interest to have written letters from any specialists, health professionals, and former employers or coworkers that you have worked with describing your mental illness and how they’ve noticed the effects it has on you. Contacting a disability representative will also be in your advantage as they can help you apply for SSD benefits as well as answer any questions that you may have regarding your mental illness.

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