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SSD and Mental Illness

SSD and Mental Illness

Can I receive Social Security Disability benefits for depression?

It is believed that one in five Americans suffer from some form of mental illness, according to reports by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Common mental illnesses include depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. While some Americans with mental illnesses can perform their day to day activities without issue, others with more serious conditions may find themselves unable to handle job and living tasks. At times, Americans with mental illnesses may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits.

The SSA and Mental Illness Claims

Social Security Disability benefits are available for those with mental as well as physical conditions. The SSA has a listing for “mental disorders” which lists potentially eligible mental illnesses and qualifying requirements. Traditionally, it can be more difficult for SSD applicants with a mental illness to obtain SSD benefits. Mental illnesses may be more difficult to substantiate and examiners tend to be skeptical of some claims.

The Mental Impairment Listings

The SSA’s mental disorders listings include the following:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Autistic disorders
  • Substance abuse disorders

Each mental disorder has its own criteria that you will need to prove to receive benefits. For example, to be eligible for SSD benefits due to your bipolar disorder, you must provide medical evidence of your severe symptoms, which may include flight of ideas, pressured speech, and distractibility. You must also demonstrate limitations in the areas of mental functioning, such as your interactions with others and ability to manage oneself. All mental conditions must be serious and persistent. You will need a documented history of the mental disorder and need to comply with a treatment regimen. Failure to seek the help of a regular psychiatrist or other doctor could result in denial of your claim.

Reasons for the Denial of Mental Illness Based Claims

SSD applicants with a mental illness may be disappointed to discover that their claim has been denied. SSD applications based on mental illnesses are denied at high rates for a variety of reasons. Most often, these claims are denied because the applicant fails to provide sufficient supportive evidence. Given the subjective nature of mental illness, it becomes all the more important to provide a plethora of supportive evidence. Evidence could include reports from your psychiatrist, written testimonies from your therapist, letters from family members, all mental health records, and your own personal account of your illness. Your attorney will help you to strengthen your claim so that you receive the benefits you deserve.

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