Having a mental disorder is difficult, to say the least – not only do you have to deal with many of the very real physical symptoms that you feel, but you also have to cope with the social difficulties that may arise as well as the widespread stigma around mental illness in the United States. If you have a diagnosed mental health disorder, however, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits that can help cover the costs of treatment as well as make up for an inability to work.
SSDI is a benefit that all Americans of any age or income bracket can apply for, and are meant to help people who can no longer work and earn a living due to an injury, illness, or condition that affects their ability to carry out necessary tasks. SSDI can also apply if you are able to work, but not at a significant enough level to support your daily life and that of your family. The Social Security Administration (SSA) can consider people with mental health disorders to be eligible for benefits, as long as their conditions meet the following criteria.
First and foremost, the impairment must have lasted for at least one year prior to your application for SSDI benefits. Then, the symptoms must restrict your ability to live your daily life, maintain social relationships, and exercise concentration and/or restraint, all of which can affect your ability to work.
The SSA divides mental impairments into several categories, starting with organic mental disorders. An organic mental disorder is caused by a physical dysfunction of the brain and results in an abnormal mental state and the loss of some functional ability. Psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, are marked by audiovisual hallucinations and incoherent or disorganized behavior, as well as emotional withdrawal or isolation. Affective disorders, meanwhile, disrupt a person’s mood, which combines with either manic or depressive episodes; a person may feel apathetic and listless, or aggressive and unfocused.
Intellectual disabilities, on the other hand, are usually impairments a person is born with, rather than one that develops during one’s lifetime. A person with an intellectual disability, in order to qualify for SSDI benefits, must either be mentally incapacitated and unable to live on one’s own, have an IQ of less than 59, or an IQ of 60 to 70 coupled with another physical or mental impairment that prevents the person from working. Other mental health disorders that the SSA considers eligible for benefits include anxiety-related disorders, somatoform disorders, personality disorders, substance addiction disorders, and developmental disorders such as autism.