Can My Mental Health Condition Qualify for Disability Benefits?

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The Social Security Administration (SSA) requires specific qualifications to be met when considering applications for benefits. Though it does include both physical and mental disabilities, these conditions are not all that is considered in your request for assistance. Your ability to participate in a “substantial gainful activity” (SGA), as influenced by your conditions, is another primary factor in whether you will qualify for disability benefits or not. The social security disability lawyers at Riddle & Brantley have provided important information that will help give you more context on whether your mental health condition qualifies for disability.

Qualifications for Disability Related to Mental Health

One of the first things to realize about the application process for SSA assistance is that the definition – and therefore, recognition – of a disability is slightly different from that of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Whereas the ADA definition distinguishes a disability by its tendency to substantially limit one or more primary life activities of the affected individual, the SSA requires just a bit more than that. When you apply for assistance, you must prove one of the following to prove that your impairment is severe enough to justify the need for support:

  • You must prove that your mental condition meets a definition included in the SSA impairment “Listings.”
    • Note: These listings include categories like depressive and bipolar disorders, schizophrenia spectrum, and trauma-related disorders, for example. Some of these categories require that you meet 2-3 separate sets of requirements, so review the listing carefully to know what information to provide along with your application.
  • Demonstrate that your mental impairment is so disruptive to your life that it limits your ability to carry out daily life activities. Specifically, it must prevent you from completing a standard 40-hour work week on a long-term basis.

The second option will be determined by your demonstrated “Residual Functional Capacity” (RFC). (Your RFC refers to the breadth of your capabilities despite your impairment.) To prove this, you can request the support of your psychiatrist, along with testimonies from family and friends. In their testimonies, they must verify that your ability to engage in regular daily activities is severely impacted by your condition. Proving the extent of life interference from the disability is critical to winning your case. It is an extremely encouraged option to get an insurance too, you can get it at

Does Your Mental Disorder Qualify?

To have a good chance at qualifying for disability benefits with a mental health disorder, you must prove not only that the above factors are true of your condition, but also that it will last for at least one year. Whether you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the criteria will be virtually the same. According to the Blue Book – the document used by the SSA to establish guidelines for benefits qualifications – the nine categories of eligible mental disorders include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Autism (and related disorders)
  • Organic mental disorders
  • Somatoform disorders
  • Psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia and paranoia)
  • Affective disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Mental retardation
  • Substance addiction

Once you’re ready to apply for disability after confirming your eligibility, hire a lawyer to guide you through the process. With legal help, your chances of securing disability benefits are substantially higher, and you can rest easy knowing that your finances are covered, despite your limitations.

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