Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

Winning Social Security Disability Benefits For Mental Disorders

It is difficult for anyone to win disability benefits, but especially for those who are filing for disability based on a mental disorder. Unfortunately, there still exists some discrimination in society against those who are mentally ill, and this attitude cannot help but be reflected by the psychologists and psychiatrists who evaluate people for the Social Security Administration. There are still quite a few mental health professionals who are unsupportive, perhaps even somewhat hostile, toward those seeking confirmation of a mental disorder to support a claim for disability.

In addition, those who are awarded disability due to a mental disorder are often at a disadvantage in that their condition was not immediately diagnosed. As a result of their struggle with mental illness, they may have a sketchy work history, if any. Social Security Disability (SSD) is awarded only to those who have paid into the system through FICA deductions from their paychecks. Many people with mental disorders haven’t worked enough to qualify for Social Security Disability or SSI, or have worked such low-paying jobs in the past that they qualify for very little benefit under SSD.

Fortunately, in deciding who is awarded benefits, Social Security does not discriminate between physical and mental impairments. The litmus test for receiving disability benefits is the existence of a severe physical or mental condition, or combination of conditions, that prevent an applicant from earning the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit each month. (The SGA amount is determined annually by Social Security.) In fact, the disability system is designed in such a way that younger people and others who have not worked much can collect more benefits than what they paid into the system.

As society has become more aware of the limitations imposed on individuals by mental illness, decisions within Social Security have mirrored this awareness. People with schizophrenia, manic depressive disorder, depression, etc., are no longer assumed to be easily “curable” with prescription medication. Since disability benefits are awarded only to those whose condition is expected to remain unchanged for at least twelve months, more and more people with mental disorders are no longer being denied based on the expectation that their condition will improve.

Though it may be more difficult for those with mental disorders to win full disability benefits than for those with obvious physical impairments, we can only hope that, as society learns more about the nature of mental illness and its limitations, this attitude will be reflected among the psychiatrists and psychologists who evaluate patients for Social Security.

Additional information:

How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
The Social Security Disability and SSI Process for Mental Claims based on Mental Disorders
Social Security Disability and SSI Mental Claims and Criteria

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

Related pages:

How can I win Social Security Disability benefits?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
What kind of cases win disability benefits?
How Likely are You to Win Your Disability Case?
Winning a Social Security Disability Appeal or SSI Appeal
What Will a Disability Lawyer Do to Win a Social Security Case?
What are the chances of winning a Social Security Disability Benefits hearing?
Preparing for a Disability Hearing to Win Social Security or SSI Benefits
Winning Social Security Disability Benefits For Mental Disorders

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - What makes you eligible?