What Mental Illnesses Qualify for Disability?

Mental illness is an alarming health concern that can influence an individual’s life by impacting their thoughts, emotions or feelings, behaviour, and way of interacting with others as they keep changing or fluctuating.

Regarding categorizing various mental illnesses as Social Security disability claims, the Social Security Administration obeys the blue book. The blue book holds the parameters to evaluate mental disorders for a person to consider them disabled and thus make them eligible for all the Social Security disability benefits.

The blue book’s section 12 is related to different categories of mental disorders. The class includes mental disorders that qualify for receiving mental health disability pay and benefits. Examining different types of mental disorders are carried out according to their bunch of criteria.

To be eligible for receiving any Social Security disability insurance benefits, one must fulfil the criteria, or their mental illness should be in the category of mental disorders mentioned in the blue book, or they might get restricted from obtaining any Social Security disability insurance benefits.

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The blue book includes several categories of mental disorders that are as follows:

1. Affective disorders

2. Anxiety disorders or Panic attacks

3. Autism spectrum disorders

4. Intellectual disorder

5. Organic mental disorders

6. Personality disorders

7. Schizophrenia, Paranoia, or other psychotic disorders

8. Somatoform disorders

9. Substance addiction

10. Obsessive-compulsive disorders

11. Neurocognitive disorders

12. Bipolar disorders

13. Eating disorders

14. Neurodevelopmental disorders

15. Somatic Symptom disorders 

16. Stressor-related disorders

1. 11  Mental Illnesses that Qualify for Disability

1.1. Affective Disorders

Affective disorder, or mood disorders, is a collection of psychiatric disorders related to mental and behavioural change. An individual battling with their emotions or mood change tends to fall under this category of mental disorder. This category includes mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, depression, and Schizophrenia.

To qualify for disability benefits, different conditions for different kinds of mental illness fall under the category of affective disorders. To be eligible for disability benefits for the state of existing mood change, one can also present their medical documentation displaying the following:

  • That one has been suffering from mental health conditions despite seeking help.
  • The Mental health conditions mentioned in one’s medical documentation are hindering their performance in the workplace.
  • One has been suffering from a mental health condition despite the treatment for a longer duration of 2 years.
  • The treatment or special attention for the underlying mental disorder is not helping the patient to face the world independently.


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1.2. Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorder is a mental health condition in which a person suffering from it will react to certain situations with fear and worry. Anxiety can influence one’s ability to do daily activities as it has a strong effect that may also lead to sweating and a rise in heat beats.

Anxiety-related disorders are panic disorder, attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, Agoraphobia, and generalized anxiety disorder, which are considered in the category to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

To Qualify for social security disability benefits in the case of anxiety disorder, a person affected by it should provide medical records declaring the following:

  • Constant anxiety or fear followed by symptoms such as motor tension, and apprehensive expectation.
  • Prolonged existence of unreasonable fear or worry.
  • Repeatedly occurring Panic attacks at a minimum once a week.
  • Symptoms related to a person’s anxiety hinder their function in work with all their concentration.
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1.3. Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism Spectrum disorder (ASD) is a form of mental illness listed to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Autism Spectrum disorder(ASD) is one of the forms of mental disorders listed to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. ASD is a mental disability or developmental disability in which an individual struggles to communicate or socialize.

The symptoms of autism also include obsessions, minimal interest, weakening in nonverbal communication skills, unusual responses to sensory stimuli and repetitive behaviour.

To acquire social security disability benefits for the condition of autism, one needs to show their medical record stating:

  • The symptoms hinder an individual’s ability to function in work and public interaction.
  • A person with autism is restricting themselves from engaging in activities outside their minimum interests.
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1.4.  Intellectual Disorders

Intellectual Disorder Intellectual disability, or intellectual developmental disorder, is a mental health condition in which a person has limited brain-based skills or cognitive functioning ability. They also lack many other skills, such as difficulty thinking, understanding any complex scenario and finding a solution (conceptual skills), incapability to perform tasks or activities necessary for daily lives(also known as mental retardation), and Social and practical skills.

The one suffering from this mental illness will qualify for the social security benefits if their medical evidence delivers the following:

  • The patient’s IQ is less than 60.
  • The medical evidence declares that a person suffering from it cannot perform independently, whether bathing, eating, dressing, or using the toilet.
  •  IQ is under 70 and includes other mental and physical conditions, restricting the sufferer from functioning in the workplace, socially interacting, and performing normal day-to-day activities.  
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1.5. Personality Disorders

A personality disorder is a mental health condition in which a person suffers from impulse control disorders. A person falling under this category of mental disorder often has a very over-controlling and under-controlling approach toward their work, relationships, and social activities.

Typical symptoms of this mental illness include overpowering negative thoughts such as anxiety, anger, hopelessness, being insignificant, odd behaviour, difficulty maintaining relationships, feeling empty, and avoiding others.

To acquire mental disability benefits while suffering from a personality disorder, one must show medical evidence stating the following:

  • The mental illness limits their ability to perform and improve under working circumstances, and the condition causes consequences for a longer time.

The mental disability is causing at least one of the symptoms listed below:

  • Inappropriate anger
  • Unusual responses, behaviour, or perceptiveness
  • Aggression
  • Reliance on others.
  • Mood swings
  • Suspicions attitude
  • Unkindness
  • Isolation
  • Autistic Thoughts
  • Impulse control behavior
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1.6. Psychotic Disorders

Psychotic disorders are mental disorders arranged in the category of a mental disability, which deals with mental disorders in which the sufferer has symptoms such as hallucinations, catatonic behaviour, delusions, and significant functional decline.

To qualify for disability benefits in case of psychotic disorders, one needs to pose their medical evidence demonstrating evident symptoms and conditions such as:

  • The medical documentation should display the condition of the patient suffering from this disorder for two years now and still unable to cope with it, and it is restricting their capability in working circumstances.
  • The medical record should also demonstrate that the sufferer gets anxiety performing out of their comfort zone, whether it’s the workplace change or the Job itself. They struggle to function independently.

To qualify for disability benefits, the other condition or symptoms affecting you critically and limiting your attitude towards any work assignment are as follows:

  • Hallucinations
  • Catatonic behaviour
  • Delusions
  • Low spirited behaviour
  • Irrational Thoughts
  • Easy to influence
  • Cut off attitude
  • Ignorant attitude or impulse control
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1.7. Somatic Symptom Disorders

Somatic Symptom Disorder (SSD), previously understood as somatoform disorder, is related to physical symptoms such as pain, weakness, or shortness of breath along with extreme fear, worry, stress, or change in behaviour. It is similar to that of Anxiety-related disorders.

This mental health condition is tricky to detect by tests performed by specialists or during the investigation as all the results are negative. The symptoms related to this mental disorder give an appearance of fakeness, but actually, they are not. The symptoms are hard to be described by a physical medical condition.

  • The medical records must display that the sufferer’s symptoms for several years are making them worse to perform routine daily activities.
  • The patient has symptoms such as loss of eyesight, difficulty in hearing, manner of speaking, inability to move, loss or intense physical feeling, or loss or removal of a body part.
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1.8. Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are mental health disorder associated with unhealthy eating practices, which eventually unfavourably affects an individual’s mental well-being and physical health.

Typical symptoms related to this disorder are concern about body weight, overindulgence in food, fear of weight gain or loss, self-induced vomiting after eating, denying hunger, etc.

To qualify for disability benefits, one has to present their medical records displaying the following:

  • Mental illness limits their ability to perform and improve under working circumstances.
  • The patient has symptoms such as overeating, self-induced vomiting after eating and denying hunger.
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1.9. Substance Abuse

Substance abuse disorder is a related that affects human behaviour and the brain, which makes them helpless, so much so that they attempt to consume alcohol, illegal or illegal drugs, or medications.

To qualify for disability benefits, the sufferer should provide a medical record demonstrating that substance abuse gives rise to the conditions of other mental disorders, neurological disorders, or digestive disorders.

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2. Other Mental Disorders that Qualify for Disability Benefits

2.1. Neurocognitive Disorders

Neurocognitive disorder is a mental health condition related to notably changing cognitive functioning or falling conscious of mental activities. The symptoms include memory loss, difficulty in communication, making a good call, and using common sense.

Neurocognitive disorders type mental conditions include dementia, Alzheimer’s, progressive brain tumour, HIV, and traumatic brain injury.

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2.2. Neurodevelopmental Disorders

These mental disorders are linked to the functioning of the brain. This mental disorder impacts the brain’s performance and neurological development, affecting a person’s social skills, comprehensible functioning, and emotional capabilities.

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3. How to Verify that Mental Illness Qualify for Mental Disability Benefits

To verify a mental illness as a disability, one must provide documents and records that define their medical condition(objective medical evidence) under the supervision of physicians, psychologists, and other health care providers.

The person suffering from the illness can also submit non-medical proof that consists of opinions and observations by the people around them. To confirm the mental disorder, one should also pose evidence gathered by any of their school members or work-related programs(longitudinal medical evidence).

How To Win Disability Benefits For A Mental Disorder

4. What are SSDI Benefits?

Social Security disability benefits Insurance or Supplemental Security Income is an insurance program that pays monthly benefits to people who have a disability, be it physical or mental. If the disability restricts one’s capability to perform in the workplace or even get employment, one can qualify for SSDI benefits.

In terms of mental disorders, to qualify for SSDI benefits, the SSA must acknowledge the mental illness, which should hamper your ability to work for at least one year. To be accepted for SSDI, one should have sufficient Social Security work credits that can be earned by earning wages and paying Social Security taxes.

SSDI, SSI & Retirement | Social Security Disability Insurance & Supplemental Income | theSITREP

6. How to Apply for SSDI Benefits

To verify a mental illness as a disability demands an individual to submit the claim or medical records through a similar procedure as that of a physical disability. One needs to present medical proof showing all the symptoms affecting their daily routine or ability to function in the workplace for at least 12 months.

To apply for SSDI, one can complete the application online or offline at the nearest SSA office within your radar. The SSDI application could get a little complicated, or the application can also be rejected due to inaccuracy in documentation or a lack of medical treatment evidence. There’s always a disability counsel who helps with the steps to fill in the application, gather documents regarding the mental disorder, and appeal for the refused claim if required.

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7. How Challenging Is It For Mental Disabilities to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Suppose mental illness causes an individual’s ability to maintain optimistic thoughts and feelings for a longer duration of time. In that case, it can affect their normal day-to-day activities or duties.

For a mental illness to qualify as a disability and acquire disability benefits might be more challenging than physical symptoms or medical conditions. The symptoms of a mental disease differ from person to person, which makes it even more difficult for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to evaluate whether mental illness qualifies.

The symptoms of a mental illness differ from person to person, which makes it even more challenging for Social Security Administration (SSA) to evaluate. Examination of symptoms in diseases like elbow pain or stomach ache is almost identical in every patient. However, in the case of mental health, it gets harder to identify the exact cause of the helplessness. Estimating symptoms for a mental disorder based on tests or other traditional medical procedures performed is a vague concept.

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Overall, there are multiple benefits to claiming disability for mental health, which are helpful if you are an affected person whose day-to-day life is impacted by these disorders. Mental health disorders are as valid as physical health disorders, and there should be no stigma to seeking help if you need it.

Last Updated on December 24, 2023 by