Social Security Mental Illness and Disability Benefits

The Blue Book, Social Security’s manual for assessing disability claims, lists 11 types of what it calls “mental disorders” among the conditions that medically qualify adults to receive state disability insurance. Social Security (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

It is important to note that not all are generally considered mental illnesses. The Blue Book list includes autism, developmental and intellectual disabilities, and decreased mental function with a medical cause such as dementia. Neither the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nor the nonprofit National Alliance on Mental Illness identify them as mental health conditions, although they can have significant effects on mental health, and Diagnoses of depression or another mental illness often accompany them.

Seven of the Blue Book categories of mental disorders include conditions most directly associated with mental illness:

  • Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders characterized by delusions, hallucinations, or extremely disorganized or catatonic behavior
  • Depressive and bipolar disorders characterized by irritation, mood swings, or loss of interest or pleasure in most activities
  • Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder associated with excessive worry, apprehension, and fear or avoidance of feelings, thoughts, activities, objects, places, or people
  • Somatic symptom and related disorders characterized by physical symptoms that are not intentionally simulated but cannot be explained due to a diagnosed medical condition or other physical cause
  • Personality and impulse control disorderstypically appearing in adolescence or early adulthood and marked by signs such as paranoia, social detachment, oversensitivity to criticism, perfectionism, or explosive anger
  • Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other conditions related to experiencing or witnessing a traumatic or deeply distressing event

As with the many categories of illnesses and physical injuries covered by the Blue Book, the Mental and Cognitive Disorders Lists detail the criteria used by Social Security to determine whether your condition meets its definition of disability – an impairment that prevents you to work for at least 12 months or will likely result in death.

For mental disorders, this evaluation may include a review of medical records, treatment history, and other evidence from you, your health care providers, and, with your permission, people you know such as friends. , family or employers. It also takes into account how available services, support and treatment might affect your ability to function.

Based on this evidence, Social Security assesses how your condition affects your mental function in areas important in a work environment, such as your ability to understand, remember, and apply information; interact with others; focus on tasks and complete them at a steady pace; and manage your emotions and behavior. For a disability claim to be approved, your limitation must be rated as “extreme” in at least one of these areas or “marked” in at least two of these areas.

keep in mind

For certain mental disorders, including schizophrenia, depression and PTSD, a finding that your condition is “severe and persistent” – meaning you can medically document that it has existed for at least two years – may be considered at instead of the limiting dimensions described above.

About Antoine L. Cassell

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