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Written by: Bruce L. Weider | 8.24.2023

Social Security Disability For Mental Health Conditions

Social Security disability benefits are available for those who are unable to work due to serious health conditions, both physical and mental. Any mental health condition that renders you “totally disabled,” as defined by the Social Security Administration, can qualify you to receive these benefits, but applying for Social Security Disability Insurance can be complicated. Experienced Michigan Social Security disability lawyer Bruce L. Weider, PC guides his clients through the application process and helps them secure the benefits they need for both physical and mental ailments. If you have questions about applying for Social Security disability for mental health, contact Bruce L. Weider, P.C. at (734) 485-0535 to schedule a free consultation to review your concerns.

What Mental Health Conditions Are Recognized by the SSA?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes fourteen different categories of mental disorders. Individuals who suffer from any of these disorders may qualify for Social Security disability benefits if their disorder prevents them from working. Here is an overview of the mental health disorders included in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book.

Neurocognitive Disorders

Neurocognitive disorders are marked by a substantial and clinically observable decline in cognitive abilities. These disorders manifest through various symptoms and indications, encompassing disruptions in memory, executive functioning (such as the regulation of attention, planning, response inhibition, and decision-making), visual-spatial skills, language and speech capabilities, perception, insight, judgment, and diminished sensitivity to societal norms.

According to the SSA, an applicant must provide medical documentation of significant cognitive decline in one or more of the following areas:

● Executive function

● Complex attention

● Language

● Learning and memory

● Perceptual-motor skills

● Social cognition

Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders

People living with these disorders may exhibit delusions, hallucinations, speech disorganization, or pronounced disordered behaviors, all of which contribute to noticeable impairment in overall functioning. Indicators and symptoms may encompass challenges in initiating and sustaining purpose-driven activities, social isolation, flattened or incongruous emotional responses, impoverished cognitive processes and communication patterns, anhedonia or persistent lack of interest, mood disruptions, attachment to idiosyncratic beliefs not predicated on observable evidence, and heightened levels of suspicion, commonly known as paranoia.

To receive benefits based on a diagnosis of schizophrenia spectrum or other psychotic disorders, the applicant must provide medical documentation for one or more of the following conditions:

● Delusions and/or hallucinations

● Disorganized thinking and speech

● Severely disorganized behavior or catatonia

Depression

To receive benefits for depression, applicants must provide medical documentation of five or more of the following symptoms of depression:

● Feelings of depression

● Loss of interest in nearly all activities

● Sleep problems

● Appetite dysregulation and changes in weight

● Loss of energy

● Feelings of worthlessness or guilt

● Trouble concentrating or thinking

● Suicidal thoughts

● Observable psychomotor agitation or retardation

Bipolar Disorder

When applying for Social Security disability due to symptoms caused by bipolar disorder, the applicant must provide medical proof of at least three of the following conditions:

● Rapid and compulsive speech

● The rapid flow of thoughts

● An exaggerated sense of self-importance

● Reduced requirement for sleep

● Easily distracted

● Engaging in risky activities without acknowledging potential harm

● Heightened drive for goal-oriented actions or restlessness

Anxiety Disorders

You must provide medical documentation of three or more of the following symptoms of anxiety to receive Social Security disability benefits for your disorder:

● Agitation or unease

● Prone to fatigue

● Challenges in focusing or maintaining attention

● Increased irritability

● Muscular tension

● Disruptions in sleep patterns

If you have questions about applying for Social Security disability for mental health conditions such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or about the procedures for documenting other mental health conditions that may qualify you to receive Social Security disability benefits, you can learn more by contacting Bruce L. Weider, PC.

Personality and Impulse Control Disorders

To receive benefits for a personality or impulse control disorder, the applicant must provide clinical documentation indicating a prevalent pattern of one or more of the following:

● Mistrust and suspicion toward others

● Social detachment

● Disregard for and violation of others' rights

● Unstable interpersonal relationships

● Excessive emotional expression and attention-seeking tendencies

● Feelings of inadequacy

● Excessive reliance on others for care and support

● Preoccupation with perfectionism and orderliness

● Recurring, impulsive, and aggressive behavioral outbursts

Eating Disorders

The applicant must provide clinical documentation of an enduring modification in eating patterns or behaviors, leading to notable alterations in food intake or absorption, and resulting in substantial impairment to both physical and psychological well-being. Gathering medical records can be a good step toward demonstrating the onset and duration of symptoms.

Trauma Disorders

Applicants with trauma disorders must provide medical documentation of all of the following to receive Social Security disability benefits:

● Exposure to a real or perceived threat of death, severe injury, or violence

● Subsequent involuntary re-experiencing of the traumatic event, such as intrusive memories, nightmares, or flashbacks

● Avoidance of external cues associated with the event

● Disturbances in mood and behavior

● Heightened arousal and reactivity, including exaggerated startle response and sleep disruptions

The Extreme Limitation Requirement

In addition to providing extensive medical documentation for symptoms related to your mental health condition, the SSA also requires applicants to prove that their condition has caused extreme limitations in one, or marked limitation in two of the following areas of mental functioning:

● Comprehend, retain, or utilize information effectively

● Engage in meaningful social interactions

● Sustain focus, endurance, or consistent work rate

● Engage in effective self-monitoring and adapt to novel environments and circumstances

How Much Are Payments for Mental Health Disability?

Compensation for individuals with mental health conditions varies based on the unique impact of each person's condition. Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are accessible to adult individuals with permanent disabilities, extending support to their families as well. To be eligible for disability compensation related to mental health, certain criteria must be met. Specifically, the Social Security Administration requires applicants to demonstrate a mental health impairment that leaves them totally disabled and unable to engage in substantial gainful activity for a minimum duration of 12 months. The individual must also have a work history and have contributed to the Social Security program for at least five of the preceding ten years.

Supplemental Security Income may be available to some disabled individuals who do not meet the work history or prior Social Security contribution requirements for SSDI. As of 2023, the maximum monthly payment for eligible individuals under SSI is $914, or $1,371 for couples. In contrast, the maximum payment for adults under SSDI is $3,627. However, the specific amount of disability payment for a mental health condition is contingent upon additional factors, including income, particularly when applying for SSI benefits.

Learn More From a Michigan Social Security Disability Lawyer

Serious mental health conditions can be debilitating, and in some cases, people who suffer from these disorders may be unable to gain or maintain consistent employment. Dedicated Michigan Social Security disability lawyer Bruce L. Weider, PC helps his clients apply for Social Security disability for mental health conditions and physical injuries. Call (734) 485-0535 today to schedule your free consultation and learn more about applying for Social Security disability benefits.

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