Qualifying for Social Security Disability (SSD) can be confusing. You may be wondering if you can qualify based on a diagnosed mental illness. The good news is that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will grant SSD based on several different mental illnesses.
The bad news is that qualifying based on a mental disability can be more difficult than qualifying based on a physical disability. You must meet the following criteria to qualify for a mental illness disability:
- You must not be able to perform the work you performed up until now due to the mental disorder.
- You must not be able to be retrained in another type of work due to the mental disorder.
- The disorder must last at least one year or longer.
You may be wondering how the SSA decides if you can work. Mental disabilities can be difficult to prove. You can prepare for your application by reviewing the information SSA is looking for on their website. You can also help your case with the following tips:
- Keep a journal. List the ways your mental disorder affects your life. You do not need to limit this list to work, although you should keep track of the tasks you can no longer perform. SSA will look at all aspects of your life, including your ability to perform personal and household tasks.
- Collect documents. Did you recently receive a performance review at work? Were you fired? Do you have copies of your medical records? Keep these documents handy. You should also have a list of your medications and tests performed.
- Ask for recommendations. Letters from your doctor, therapist, or former employer explaining why you can no longer work may help your application.
The SSA considers their criteria more so than a specific list of conditions that may qualify. The important qualification is that the disorder keeps you from being able to work. There are some categories of conditions, however, that the SSA routinely considers, including mood disorders like depression, anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, mental retardation, personality disorders, and autism.
Although a mental disability can be harder to prove than a physical disability, it can be done. If your mental disorder is affecting your ability to work, you should consider whether SSD can help you.