Mental illness comes in many varieties. Each type of mental illness has its own causes, symptoms and treatments. The Social Security Disability manual of qualifying illnesses and injuries, also known as the “Blue Book,” lists what it calls eleven “mental disorders” that might qualify a person for SSD benefits.
A sampling of qualifying disorders
The categories include neurocognitive disorders, schizophrenia and similar disorders, depressive, bipolar and related disorders, intellectual disorders, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders, autism spectrum disorder, neurodevelopmental disorders, eating disorders and stressor-related disorders.
Basic requirements of eligibility
The requirements for obtaining an award of benefits are the same as for any other illness, injury or physical condition: the mental disorder must be verified by the written opinion of a health care professional, and the condition must be diagnosed as permanent or likely to result in death within 12 months. The condition must also cause total disability, which is defined as the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity, that is, the inability to earn more than $1,350 per month. For blind individuals, the amount is $2,260 per month.
A closer look at depressive and bipolar disorders
These disorders are frequently diagnosed. Some people have relatively mild cases that don’t interfere too much with their working lives. Others have more severe cases that make it impossible for them to do their jobs.
The Blue Book makes it clear that eligibility for SSD benefits is intended for people with severe cases.
Meeting the evidentiary thresholds for mental disorders can be very difficult. Anyone considering an application for SSDI benefits may wish to consult an attorney with experience in representing other SSDI applicants for assistance in completing the initial application, gathering evidence if an evidentiary hearing is required, and drafting the written submissions required in the SSDI appeals process.