Overview of Disability
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Disability for Mental
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What is a disability?
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Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?
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.
What do medical records need to say about your mental condition?
Ideally, they should provide some level of detail regarding a disability claimant's ability to engage in normal daily activities. An inability to engage in normal daily activities, or a reduced ability to persist in them, may be indicative of a claimant's inability to engage in work activity.
For more on this topic: How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What kind of mental conditions will qualify for disability under SSD or SSI?
The social security administration receives disability applications for practically every type of impairment known to exist. Mental impairments, conditions, or problems, are divided into two camps: those that are psychiatric and those that are psychological.
Psychological problems are those for which there may be an organic cause and for which psychological testing--such as IQ testing and memory scales--is often used to gauge the extent of the condition, such as autism, mental retardation, alzheimer's disease, borderline intellectual functioning, traumatic brain injury, and long and short term memory loss.
Psychiatric conditions include those problems that most people with think of in unison with counseling and medication such as: anxiety related disorders, affective disorders (depression and bipolar disorder), personality disorders, and schizophrenia, paranoid, and other psychotic disorders.
For more on this topic, What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
1. When you file for disability with Mental and Physical Conditions.
2. The disability process for Mental Claims based on Mental Disorders.
3. Can You Get approved for disability if you have a mental condition but do not take medication?
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
Can You Get Approved For SSI or SSD Benefits IF You Have A Mental Condition But Do Not Take Medication?
Will Your Claim for Disability be Handled Differently if it is Based on a Physical or Mental Problem?
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
The Social Security Disability and SSI Process for Mental Claims based on Mental Disorders
When you file for disability and have both Mental and Physical Conditions
What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Are SSI and Social Security Disability Requirements Tougher For Mental Claims?
Social Security Disability, SSI, Mental Disorders, and Functional Limitations
Awarded SSD benefits, can I work while getting disability?
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 - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria