Does a Mental Disorder Qualify For Social Security Disability?

You may wonder if a mental disorder also qualifies for Social Security disability assistance. Mental disorders can be just as disabling as a physical disability or handicap. A mental disorder can prevent you from working, having fulfilling relationships, and functioning in society.


elderly lady who have Alzheimer disease
                                                                                                                                           Mental Disorder affects 1 in 5 Adults

In 2020, about 21% of Americans experienced a mental disorder or about 1 in 5 adults. About 5%, or 1 in 20 adults, experienced a severe mental disorder. About 8% of Americans, or 21 million people, experienced a major depressive episode in the same year.

Suicide and other negative activity can result if the mental disorder is left untreated. Many people in jail have been found to have some kind of mental health challenge. Veterans are not immune from mental disorders and may qualify through the Social Security Disability program as well as veterans disability programs. As you see, if you are suffering from a mental disorder, you are not alone. Medical care is available and you may qualify for disability assistance as well.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

This is a program that pays a person and certain family members if, while you were working, you earned enough credits through payment of Social Security taxes from your earnings, or those of a qualifying family member.

SSDI is for individuals who are no longer able to work due to a substantial illness or impairment. To qualify, a person must have worked in jobs that are covered by Social Security and deduct those taxes from earnings. The calculations are made on the number of earnings the disabled person earned prior to leaving work due to a disability.

SSDI is different than SSI, or Supplemental Security Income. SSI is a need-based program offering basic financial assistance to older persons and disabled individuals who have limited resources. SSI recipients qualify for Medicaid immediately, whereas SSDI recipients qualify after 24 months of receiving benefits.

Qualifying Criteria

Social Security uses the same basic requirements for any disability rating. The disability must be expected to last longer than 12 months or end in the death of the recipient. Mental disorders are also judged by the same standard. They are considered a disability and do qualify for disability through the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The SSA’s “blue book” contains the full listing of all conditions that they consider “disabling.” The book contains an entire section on mental disorders. Many of the disorders have multiple requirements that must be fulfilled to qualify for SSDI. Any mental illness that prevents you from having and maintaining gainful employment may be used as a qualifier.

But just having a mental disorder isn’t enough to begin receiving SSDI payments. You still must submit an application and include sufficient documentation that supports your claim of disability. This can include:

• Medical records from psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, social workers, or therapists

• Any treatments, such as brain scans that show any abnormalities responsible or other organic cause for symptoms (if applicable)

• Medical records from emergency room treatments or hospitalizations resulting from your condition

• Pharmacy records related to the prescription treatment of your condition

A diagnosis isn’t enough to show disability. You’ll be required to demonstrate that the diagnosed illness also includes limitations that impair certain functions and this functioning impairment prevents or prohibit you from working. During medical visits, speak honestly with medical providers about how your disorder impairs you so that their medical records will give an accurate account of your condition.

Adding detailed descriptions of how your mental disorder disrupts your life can be a helpful first-person account that accompanies your medical records. It is not unusual to find many individuals applying for SSDI may have one or more disabling physical conditions in addition to their mental disorders.

It is a good idea for you to speak with an experienced disability attorney, like Bill Herren, before submitting letters and first-person documentation so that they are done correctly. Working with a disability attorney from the beginning can increase your chances of approval and ensure that the application is completed correctly. It also lets you focus on taking care of yourself while your attorney handles your claim application process.

Unfortunately, many claims are rejected because of insufficient documentation or errors. If you are considering applying for yourself or a loved one that has a mental disorder that qualifies for Social Security Disability, contact an attorney that specializes in this area of law. If the application is denied, you can have your attorney represent you in an appeal, which can increase your chance of being approved.

How Long Does it Take?

With rare exceptions, disability payments do not begin immediately. Once you submit your claim, it will be reviewed by a caseworker who will verify your information and medical documentation before rendering a decision. The decision is generally given within three to five months, on average, though sometimes it can take longer.

Once your application is approved by the SSA, you’ll have a yearly review of your condition since many mental disorders are treatable. If your condition remains the same and there is no improvement, you will likely continue to have your benefits.

Contact Herren Law Today

Mental disorders affect thousands of Texans and their families. Many should qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), but their applications are denied because of insufficient documentation or outright errors. Herren Law has helped over 4000 Houstonians receive the disability benefits they need. William Herren has an unsurpassed commitment to his disabled clients and is a proud member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives. Licensed to practice law in Texas and in the Federal District Courts of the Southern District of Texas and the Eastern District of Texas, as well as the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Mr. Herren is very experienced in Social Security disability type cases, including mental disorders that qualify for Social Security Disability.

When you call Herren Law, we’ll immediately begin working with you one-on-one, going through your records, and helping you to apply properly.

If you or someone you care about has a mental disorder and you are wondering if that mental disorder qualifies for Social Security disability assistance, start with William Herren and the Herren Law firm. Your first step is getting an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer on your side, so contact our Houston law office at (713) 682-8194. We offer free, no-obligation consultations, and there is no fee unless we win your case.

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