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Are disability benefits available for mental conditions?

If you are aware that Social Security Disability benefits may be available for individuals suffering from a disabling mental health condition, you may wonder what mental conditions qualify for benefits and how to access benefits. Social Security Disability benefits for mental conditions are generally available in the same way that Social Security Disability benefits are available for disabling physical medical conditions.

SSD benefits for a mental condition are available to disabled individuals who can demonstrate that the mental condition they suffer from is so severe is prevents them from working. In addition, the mental condition must be expected to last for a year or longer, or result in death. Demonstrating a mental condition, as opposed to a physical impairment, can sometimes be challenging for disabled individuals who are badly in need of SSD benefits.

The Social Security Administration provides a list of a mental conditions that are considered inherently disabling and would prevent the sufferer from engaging in substantial gainful activity. Mental conditions on the list include: Schizophrenia; Autism Disorders; Mental Retardation; depression; anxiety; and Bipolar Disorder. If the disabled individual’s mental condition is not on the list, they can still demonstrate they meet the requirements to qualify for disability through medical records and work history.

There are different methods for evaluating the severity of a mental condition, including medical records and an activities of daily living questionnaire and feedback provided from friends and family members; additionally, a mental consultative exam may also be required. The disabled individual’s ability to engage in substantial gainful activity will also be assessed. The process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits based on a mental condition can be complex and, at times, even confusing, so it is valuable for disabled individuals to understand as much of the process as possible beforehand and how it can help them obtain the benefits they need.