What You Should Know About Social Security Benefits And Mental Illness

If you aren't able to work, you might be eligible for social security benefits. These benefits are for someone that has a disability, typically a physical disability. However, you might also get benefits if you have a mental illness that keeps you from having a steady job. Here are some things to know about social security and whether or not you can get benefits with a mental illness.

What are the different types of social security?

The first thing you should be aware of is that there are different types of social security. The first type of social security you can get for a mental illness is called supplemental security income (SSI). This is generally for people who might not have a strong work history and have not paid into social security, but have a mental disorder keeping them from having a good job. The other type you might qualify for is social security disability insurance (SSDI). With this form of social security, you have been working and paid into the benefit, but are no longer able to work because of a new or escalating mental illness. You will only qualify for one or the other.

What are the disability requirements by social security?

In order to get social security disability benefits, there are some requirements you need to meet. First of all, you have to able to prove that your mental illness keeps you from getting and maintaining a full-time job. Social security will have a specific period of time they expect people to work full-time hours. If you can't keep these hours due to your illness, you have a good shot at being eligible for benefits. It is possible that you can get partial benefits if you can work a part-time job, but it isn't enough to support yourself. The mental illness must also be one that SSI or SSDI considers eligible for benefits.

What mental disorders can be considered under social security?

According to the social security administration (SSA), only certain mental or psychological conditions qualify for disability benefits. This is not the full list, but it includes some common illnesses that might qualify for social security disability:

  • Alzheimer's or dementia
  • Autism
  • Asperger's
  • Schizophrenia
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Substance abuse disorder
  • Intellectual disability
  • Severe depression

Why are medical records so important?

The SSA needs proof that you not only have a mental illness, but that it is severe enough to keep you from holding onto a job. This requires medical records, such as documents from the hospital or doctor that gave you treatment, or your psychologist that has been helping you with your anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. If you have a psychiatrist that medicates you for schizophrenia, or you have a doctor treating your autism or Asperger's, provide notes from those physicians and medical records to show your timeline of treatments.

If you believe you are eligible for social security disability, but you were denied the benefits, contact a social security disability lawyer. They will be able to help you go through your documentation and file an appeal.