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Can You Get Social Security Disability Benefits for a Mental Health Condition?

Can You Get Social Security Disability Benefits for a Mental Health Condition?

A mental health condition that prevents you from working many qualify you for disability benefits

Can You Get Social Security Disability Benefits for a Mental Health Condition?

There is a common misconception that you must have a physical disability of some sort in order to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. However, as a California disability benefits lawyer can explain, if you have a mental health issue that prevents you from working, you may also be entitled to benefits.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a “listing of impairments” for disabilities that are eligible for SSDI benefits. It further divides mental health disorders into eleven primary categories. They include:

  1. Personality and impulse-control disorders
  2. Neurocognitive disorders
  3. Intellectual disorder
  4. Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders
  5. Somatic symptom and related disorders
  6. Eating disorders
  7. Neurodevelopmental disorders
  8. Depressive, bipolar and related disorders
  9. Autism spectrum disorder
  10. Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders
  11. Trauma- and stressor-related disorders

Adults with mental health conditions are eligible for SSDI benefits as long as they have paid Social Security taxes and earned enough credits (based on SSA rules). You must also be able to demonstrate that you are disabled under the SSA’s rules.

The SSA follows a five-step sequential process to determine if a person is disabled. First, you must not earn more than $1,220 a month from working when claiming disability. Second, a person must have an impairment or a combination of impairments that seriously limits their ability to perform basic work. This disability must be expected to last for at least 12 months or to result in death. In the third step, SSA will review whether an applicant’s condition meets all of the requirements on its listing of impairments or if the person has other factors that equal a condition on that list. Fourth, then the medical impairment must prevent them from performing any of their past work. Fifth, the person must not be able to do any other type of work, based on their impairment, age, education, past work experience and any transferable skills.

The exact evidence that you will need to show will depend on your mental condition. For example, if you have an anxiety disorder, you will need to show that you have at least one of the following:

  • Constant irrational fear
  • Recurring, unpredictable panic attacks at least weekly
  • Persistent anxiety with appropriate symptoms
  • Recurring compulsions and obsessions leading to significant distress

You must not only demonstrate that you have these symptoms, but that they significantly impact your ability to function at work.

Applying for SSDI benefits based on a mental health condition can be challenging. However, a skilled California disability benefits lawyer can work with you to file your application, handle any hearings, and work on appeals. At PLBSH, we are experienced at working with clients with a range of disabilities, including mental health issues. Contact us today at (800) 435-7542 or info@plbsh.com to learn more about how we can help you.

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