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When can mental health conditions qualify for SSDI?

On Behalf of | May 26, 2023 | Social Security Disability |

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are a crucial financial safety net for working adults. Those who have made payroll contributions to Social Security can potentially apply for SSDI benefits when they find themselves unable to work due to medical reasons if they are still too young to qualify for retirement benefits.

Most applicants who seek SSDI benefits have physical disabilities, such as musculoskeletal conditions that prevent them from performing physical labor. However, some applicants for SSDI benefits apply because they have mental health conditions that prevent them from continuing to work. When do mental health issues potentially qualify someone for SSDI benefits?

When there are significant, documented symptoms

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a list of different types of disorders that may qualify for someone for SSDI benefits based on their mental health concerns. Depressive disorders, anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorders are among the different categories of mental health conditions that may qualify someone for benefits.

The SSA also specifically references:

  • neurocognitive disorders
  • neurodevelopmental disorders
  • autism spectrum disorders
  • psychotic disorders
  • intellectual disorders
  • personality and impulse-control disorders

However, just having a diagnosis that falls under one of these categories is far from sufficient for the purpose of qualifying for benefits. Applicants also need sufficient documentation of how the condition impacts their life. Their symptoms will need to be both severe and persistent.

Records from a stay at a mental hospital, possibly after an involuntary psychiatric hold, can help establish the severity of someone’s mental health condition. Generally, an individual needs to prove that they cannot work any job at all to qualify for SSDI benefits. They also need proof that their condition will persist for at least a year, if not longer, for benefits to be a possibility.

Handling a mental health claim alone can seem impossible

Anyone struggling with a debilitating medical condition may not have the physical or mental stamina to handle the challenging paperwork involved in an SSDI benefits claim. It is very easy for those who already struggle with mental health issues to give up halfway through the process or to make mistakes and then fail to correct them out of frustration.

Those who believe that they or an immediate family member might qualify for SSDI benefits due to a recent mental health diagnosis may benefit from reviewing the existing medical records to see if they likely have sufficient documentation for a claim. Learning more about the standards that apply to SSDI benefits claims may be useful for those who are worried about supporting themselves while coping with a medical issue.