What Mental Illness Qualifies You for Disability Benefits?

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    What Mental Illness Qualifies You for Disability Benefits?

    Mental illness often has a profound impact on an individual’s life, affecting their ability to work and carry out daily activities. Recognizing the challenges faced by those with severe mental health conditions, the government administers several disability programs that provide financial assistance to people who qualify.

    At Liner Legal Disability Lawyers, we understand how painful living with mental illness is for those who suffer with it and those who love them. This article explains the criteria and processes for determining what mental illnesses qualify for disability benefits and how we can help with your disability claim.

    Types of Mental Health Conditions That Qualify

    Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are the two primary disability benefit programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). To qualify for these programs based on a mental health condition, your condition must meet the government’s definition of a “disability” is a

    Medically determinable physical or mental impairment that last or is expected to last 12 months (or end in death) and prevents the claimant from performing substantial gainful activities.

    Both the SSDI and the SSI program require a qualifying disability to be long-term, lasting a year or more. Qualifying mental illnesses qualifying for SSDI or SSI benefits must Severe and persistent conditions. Common qualifying mental health impairments include, but are not limited to:

    1. Major Depressive Disorder
    2. Bipolar Disorder
    3. Schizophrenia
    4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
    5. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
    6. Panic Disorder
    7. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

    Inability to Work: Both Social Security Disability (SSD or SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits were created to replace a portion of the income they could not earn due to their disability. To qualify, your mental health condition must significantly impair your ability to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA). SGA refers to work that generates income above a certain threshold established by the SSA.

    1. 2023 Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) threshold is $1,470 for non-blind claimants and $2,460 for blind disability claimants.
    2. 2024 Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) threshold is $1,550 for non-blind claimants and $2,590 for those who are blind.

    Medical Documentation: It is crucial to emphasize the importance of seeking professional help for mental health conditions. A qualified mental health provider assesses your condition, provides a diagnosis, and recommends appropriate treatment options. Having a documented mental health history is often a critical component in applying for disability benefits. You must provide medical evidence of your mental health condition, including records of treatment, medications, therapy, and any hospitalizations related to your condition.

    The Five-Step Evaluation Process

    The SSA employs a five-step evaluation process to determine disability eligibility, which applies to both physical and mental health conditions:

    1. Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA): The SSA first assesses whether you are currently engaged in SGA. If you are, your application may be denied, as you are considered not disabled.
    2. Severity of Impairment: If you are not engaged in SGA, the SSA evaluates the severity of your mental health condition. It must significantly limit your ability to perform basic work activities to be considered for benefits.
    3. Listing of Impairments: The SSA maintains a list of medical conditions, known as the Listing of Impairments. Most people refer to it as the Blue Book. Claimants whose impairment meets the criteria for a particular mental illness or condition listed in the Blue Book automatically qualify for disability benefits. Meeting or equaling the criteria in this section typically results in automatic eligibility.
    4. Residual Functional Capacity (RFC): If your condition does not meet or equal a listed impairment, the SSA assesses your RFC. RFC is an evaluation of your ability to perform work-related activities despite your mental health condition. The SSA considers factors like your ability to concentrate, interact with others, and adapt to changes in the workplace.
    5. Age, Education, and Work Experience: Finally, the SSA takes into account your age, education, and work experience to determine whether you can adjust to other types of work. If your condition prevents you from performing your previous job and any other work you may be qualified for, you may be granted disability benefits.

    The Role of Medical Evidence

    Presenting enough medical evidence with your disability claim package is vital to the disability benefits application process. When applying for disability based on a mental health condition, you will need to  provide the following:

    1. Documentation of the diagnosis, including the date of diagnosis and the treating physician’s information.
    2. A detailed medical history, including records of hospitalizations, treatments, and medications.
    3. Information about the impact of your mental health condition on your daily life, such as difficulties with self-care, relationships, and employment.

    Keep in mind that the SSA may request additional medical evaluations or assessments by their appointed healthcare professionals as part of the evaluation process.

    Experienced Legal Representation Is Essential

    The Social Security Disability benefits application process is complex, particularly when dealing with mental health conditions. The process requires the identification and collection of all medical records from past and present healthcare providers. The purpose of this is to document the onset and progression of the claimant’s impairment with as much specificity as possible.

    This document collection process alone can be daunting for someone who has had many healthcare providers or has multiple illnesses in their medical history.

    Seeking legal representation from an experienced disability attorney who concentrates their legal practice on disability law is of great value to those beginning the application process.

    No disability claimant wants to have their application denied or rejected because it was improperly prepared or lacked the appropriate supporting documentation. Disability lawyers and their staff work with the necessary forms and governing regulations every single day.

    At Liner Legal Disability Lawyers, helping people with physical and mental disabilities obtain the SSD and SSI benefits they are entitled to is all we do. And we’ve been successfully getting our clients approved for Social Security Disability for years.

    If you are thinking about filing a disability claim, or if you have already applied but need professional help and reliable information, contact us at Liner Legal Disability Lawyers. We are here to help.

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