Yes, if you cannot work and will not be able to work for at least 12 months. Mental illnesses can be disabling, and the Social Security Administration recognizes that fact.
For the purposes of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for adults, the definition of disability is:
The inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.
A “medically determinable impairment” is one “that results from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities that can be shown by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques.” In other words, it is not enough to have symptoms that are disabling. You must show those symptoms are due to an impairment.
What kinds of impairments does the Social Security Administration accept?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has an official listing of impairments that, when serious, persistent and disabling, are generally accepted to qualify for benefits. Your impairment doesn’t absolutely have to be on the SSA’s listing in order to qualify you for benefits, but most impairments are on the listing. The SSA’s listing of impairments for mental disorders includes:
- Neurocognitive disorders
- Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders
- Depressive, bipolar and related disorders
- Intellectual disorders
- Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders
- Somatic symptom and related disorders
- Personality and impulse-control disorders
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Neurodevelopmental disorders
- Eating disorders
- Trauma- and stressor-related disorders
Each of these is broken down and described in the SSA’s listing. You might be diagnosed with more than one of these disorders, and the combination could be enough to disable you from working.
In order to obtain SSDI or SSI benefits, you will need to show, using objective medical evidence, that you have been diagnosed with one of these conditions, that it is serious and persistent, and that it has kept or will keep you from being able to work for at least a year.
The types of evidence you might present include a doctor’s diagnosis, a description of your symptoms, test results, interview results, any prescription medications you have been prescribed, therapy observations, a professional’s opinion on the expected duration of your symptoms and other relevant information.
Ultimately, your Social Security Disability lawyer will help you understand what is required and help you collect the objective medical evidence you need to make your claim.
If you are suffering from a long-term, disabling mental disorder, our hearts go out to you. Discuss your case with an attorney in a free initial consultation.