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SSD and Mental Illness

People with mental health issues are often unable to work. As a result, they may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration provides benefits to eligible workers who have been diagnosed with:

  • Mood disorders, also called affective disorders
  • Autism
  • Developmental disorders 
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Organic disorders
  • Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders
  • Anxiety-related disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Substance addiction disorders

The most common types of mental illnesses that make people eligible for SSD benefits are mood disorders and anxiety disorders. Nearly 3.5 million people receive Social Security Disability because they cannot work due to such conditions. These include depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, agoraphobia and panic attacks.

However, simply being diagnosed with one of the eligible conditions is not enough by itself to make people eligible for SSD. They must demonstrate that the diagnosed illness affects their ability to work and function. Things they must prove include: Inability to perform some or all activities of daily living

  • Inability to deal with others (social functioning)
  • Poor concentration
  • Episodes of decompensation

Again, it is not enough to merely say that you have experienced those things in the course of your mental illness. There must be evidence such as employment records, hospital and doctor records, and the results of a mental status examination.

In short, there are many hoops to jump through if you hope to obtain SSD benefits for mental illness. Although jumping through bureaucratic hoops is something that most people who apply for SSD must do, there is an additional burden for people seeking benefits because of mental illness. There continues to be considerable prejudice and those who are living with these conditions face discrimination and a widely held belief that mental illness is not actually real. Battling such attitudes can make people reluctant to seek the benefits they need and deserve.

If you or a loved one is suffering from mental illness and hopes to obtain Social Security Disability benefits, don't give up. The advocates at Binder & Binder® are here to help. They know what you are going through and have the knowledge and experience to complete your application or claim correctly and get you the benefits you need and deserve.

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