Topic Categories:

Social Security Disability Definitions

Social Security Disability and SSI Overview

The Requirements for Disability

Social Security Disability and SSI Applications

Tips and Advice for Disability Claims

How long does Disability take?

Common Mistakes after Receiving a Disability Denial

Disability Denials and Filing Appeals

Social Security Mental Disability Benefits

Disability Benefits offered through Social Security

Benefits through SSI disability

Disability Benefits for Children

Disability Qualifications and How to Qualify

Social Security Disability and Working

Winning your Disability Benefits

Social Security Back Pay and the disability award notice

Disability Lawyers and Hiring an Attorney

Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions

What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?

Social Security Disability SSI and Medical Evidence

Filing for Disability Benefits

Eligibility for Disability Benefits

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Ask a question, get an answer

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits

Yes, you can qualify for disability (either social security disability or SSI disability, or both if your claim is concurrent) on the basis of a mental illness. The key to being awarded benefits on the basis of a mental illness is simply providing medical record documentation that proves an inability to engage in what the social security administration refers to as substantial gainful activity or SGA. This simply means working and earning at least a certain amount, and this amount is subject to change each year.

Translation: you can work and still potentially be approved for disability benefits as long as your earnings do not exceed a certain limit. The reason social security (and SSI) works this way is because the federal government acknowledges that even individuals with disabling conditions may be able to engage in limited work activity.

Of course, if an individual demonstrates that they can work and earn more than the SGA limit, the social security administration will eventually have no choice but to conclude that the individual is not disabled, or, if they have been receiving benefits, is no longer disabled.

Also, and this is important to keep in mind: individuals who are filing on the basis of a mental illness should be particularly careful with regard to work activity. The ability to engage in work activity that is even below the allowable limit can sometimes sway the perceptions of a disability claim decision-maker...such as a disability examiner when a case comes up for review.

Note: all cases that have been approved eventually come up for review; for this reason, those who have been approved on the basis of a mental illness should carefully consider their circumstances before they engage in work.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions

Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The Disability Decision Process and What gets taken into Consideration | Getting Denied for Disability Benefits | Questions about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | Social Security Disability Hearings | Social Security Medical Examinations | Social Security SSI Doctors | Social Security Disability Representation | Social Security Disability SSI Reviews