Mental Illness and Social Security Disability Benefits


Posted by: Chris

The term “disability” is often associated with physical conditions such spinal cord injuries, amputations, and arthritis. However, many mental health conditions are disabling as well. If you are suffering from a disabling mental illness, it’s important to understand whether or not you qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

The Definition of Disability

To qualify for benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) must believe your mental illness is disabling. The SSA defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that prevents you from working. The physical or mental impairment cannot be temporary, either. It must result in death or last for at least one year before it is considered disabling.

Tips For Applying For Disability Benefits For Mental Illnesses

There are two benefit programs that people with mental illnesses may qualify for: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Take the time to learn the requirements for each of these programs so you can determine if you qualify for either one. For example, if you have not worked for a long period of time, you may not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI.

The key to getting approved for benefits is proving your mental illness is disabling. But, the people who will be reviewing your application are not licensed mental health professionals, so they have a limited understanding as how mental health conditions could affect your life. For this reason, it’s important to provide as much evidence of your disability as possible. Submit all of your medical records and ask your doctor if he would be willing to submit a written statement on your behalf as well. It is much easier for the SSA to understand the limitations caused by your mental health condition when they are summarized in a written statement instead of hidden in medical records.

The SSA may be interested in contacting other people in your life to learn more about your condition. Because this is a possibility, it’s best to be prepared by reaching out to people who have seen how your mental illness has impacted your life. Ask these individuals if they would be willing to speak to the SSA about the changes they have witnessed. If they agree, provide their contact information to the SSA. Many people are uncomfortable talking about their mental illness with loved ones, but this is an important step in the process of applying for benefits.

Obtaining Social Security disability benefits is not easy. If you have a mental illness, get the help you need from the attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. We have helped countless clients navigate the complex process of getting approved for Social Security disability benefits. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.