Critical Information About Social Security for Mental Health

social security for mental health
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Mental health is a major aspect of overall well-being, and for those struggling with mental disorders, it can be challenging to maintain employment and financial stability. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits to individuals with qualifying mental disorders. Let’s explore what SSDI is and how to apply for Social Security for mental health.

What Is SSDI?

SSDI is a federal insurance program that provides financial assistance to individuals who are unable to work due to a disability, including mental disorders. To qualify for SSDI, you must have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. The amount of benefits you receive depends on your average lifetime earnings before your disability begins.

The Importance of Seeking Professional Help

When dealing with a mental disorder, get professional help from a qualified mental health provider first. They can provide an accurate diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan, and assist in documenting your condition for your SSDI application. Regular visits to your mental health provider can demonstrate the severity of your disorder and its impact on your ability to work, strengthening your case for benefits.

Mental Disorders That Qualify for SSDI

The SSA recognizes several categories of mental disorders that may qualify for SSDI benefits. These include:

Psychotic disorders

Mental disorders in this category include symptoms such as hallucinations, catatonic behavior, delusions, and a significant functional decline. This is associated with conditions like:

  • Delusional disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective disorder

Individuals with psychotic disorders may experience paranoia and social withdrawal that affect their ability to work and function in society.

Neurocognitive disorders

This category includes mental disorders that cause a significant decline in cognitive functioning, like:

  • Dementia due to a medical condition (e.g. progressive brain tumor, HIV, traumatic brain injury)
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Vascular dementia

Neurocognitive disorders can include symptoms such as memory loss and problems with speech, decision-making, and judgment.

Anxiety disorders

Excessive anxiety, fear, and apprehension are characteristics of anxiety disorders. Other symptoms may include sleeplessness, panic attacks, and muscle tension. Common conditions in this category include:

  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Agoraphobia
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Keep in mind that anxiety that is related to trauma, such as PTSD, is evaluated under a different category.

Depressive disorders

Characteristics of these disorders include loss of interest, mood swings, and clinically significant changes in sleep, weight, appetite, or energy. These include:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depressive disorders
  • Cyclothymic disorder

Intellectual disorders

This category includes disorders from significantly subaverage intellectual functioning, with symptoms such as poor social or conceptual skills. Other terms for these conditions include intellectual disability and intellectual developmental disorder.

Somatic symptom disorders

This category covers disorders that manifest physical symptoms that are not feigned but that cannot be explained by another mental disorder or a physical medical condition. These include:

  • Illness anxiety disorder
  • Conversion disorder

Somatic symptom disorders may be characterized by pain, fatigue, and pseudoneurological blindness or deafness.

Eating disorders

These disorders have to do with disturbances in eating behavior. Some common symptoms are preoccupation with body weight, binge eating, food restriction, and self-induced vomiting associated with:

  • Restrictive food disorder
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa

These conditions can lead to other problems including dental issues, irritability, and cardiac abnormalities.

Trauma disorders

This category covers mental illness related to trauma and stress. Some common symptoms are flashbacks, persistent fear or anger, anxiety, aggression, and sleep problems. The most common example of this mental illness is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Neurodevelopmental disorders

Disorders in this category begin during childhood or adolescence, though they may not be diagnosed until adulthood. This can include:

  • Learning disorders
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Borderline intellectual functioning

Common symptoms include repeated accidental injuries, poor attention or impulse control, and abnormal cognitive processing.

Autism spectrum disorders

The SSA defines these disorders as those characterized by qualitative deficits in the development of certain skills relating to social interaction, behavior patterns, and communication skills. Autism spectrum disorders may include symptoms such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, unusual responses to stimuli, and self-injurious actions.

Personality disorders

This category also includes impulse-control disorders characterized by inflexible or pervasive behavior patterns. Conditions under this category include:

  • Paranoid disorder
  • Intermittent explosive disorder
  • Schizotypal disorder

Some common symptoms include patterns of suspicion or distrust, social detachment, decision-making difficulties, perfectionism, and impulsive anger.

Applying for Social Security for Mental Health

To prove to the SSA that your mental disorder qualifies for SSDI benefits, your application must include comprehensive medical records of diagnosis and treatment for the mental illness. You need to be able to show that your symptoms are severe enough to prevent you from working for at least 12 months.

The SSDI application forms are complicated and many applicants are initially denied due to errors in the paperwork or missing medical documentation. A disability attorney helps applicants with each step of the process: filling out the application, gathering adequate documentation, and appealing a denied claim (if necessary).

Get Expert Help With Your SSDI Claim

Navigating the SSDI application process can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with a mental disorder. That’s where Benefits Claim comes in. Our experienced disability attorneys are dedicated to helping individuals with mental disorders secure the SSDI benefits they deserve.

We understand the challenges you face and are here to guide you through every step of the process, from initial application to potential appeals. Our team will work tirelessly to ensure that your claim is strong, well-documented, and has the best possible chance of approval.

Get in Touch with Benefits Claim to Learn More About Social Security for Mental Health

If you or a loved one is struggling with a mental disorder and unable to work, don’t hesitate to reach out to Benefits Claim. We offer free consultations to help you understand your options and determine if you qualify for Social Security for mental health.

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