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SSD Mental Illness Categories

A son's mental illness and his receipt of Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits may have become a tool in the political wars. Arizona governor Jan Brewer has said that her son was targeted by political opponents in an effort to discredit her.

The case highlights the ways that mental illness continues to be stigmatized. At issue in the case of Ronald Brewer, who has been hospitalized since 1990 after being found not guilty of sexual assault by reason of insanity, is whether he is entitled to receive SSD benefits. There is conflicting information about the status of the case. However, it shows society's ambivalence toward SSD benefits for people with mental and emotional illnesses.

However, if a person suffering from a mental illness meets SSD requirements, he or she is eligible for benefits.  A wide range of mental illnesses qualify people for disability payments, as listed on the Social Security Administration's "Bluebook":

  • Organic mental disorders
  • Schizophrenic, paranoid and other psychotic disorders
  • Affective disorders
  • Mental retardation
  • Anxiety-related disorders
  • Somatoform disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Substance addiction disorders
  • Autistic and pervasive developmental disorders

Within these nine mental illness categories are many other specific conditions and syndromes. Proving that you indeed suffer from a recognized mental illness or illnesses can be challenging. An advocate can help you prepare your case and speed the process along. Having experienced assistance can also improve your chances of success.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, "Leaks of probe involving ill son troubles Brewer", by Paul Davenport, Dec. 8, 2011.

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