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What are some qualifying mental conditions for SSDI benefits?

Many Missourians suffer from a mental disorder or illness. Some of these diseases, if they are severe, can interfere with a person's ability to work. In such cases, the illness may support a successful claim for Social Security Disability Insurance ("SSDI") benefits. In this post, we will provide an overview of the mental illnesses and symptoms that may qualify for SSDI benefits.

As with most diseases, the Social Security Administration requires documentation of a medically provable mental impairment, verification of the disease's limitation on a person's ability to work, and proof that the condition will last or has lasted for 12 months. The specific diseases are arranged in nine diagnostic categories: organic mental disorders; schizophrenic, paranoid and other psychotic disorders; affective disorders; intellectual disabilities; anxiety-related disorders; somatoform disorders; personality disorders; substance addiction disorders; and autistic disorders and other pervasive developmental disorders.

Each category has its own requirements for proving disability. We do not have enough room in this post to enumerate all the criteria, but the criteria for anxiety-related disorders provides an illustrative example. The claimant must prove the existence of one of the following: generalized persistent anxiety; a persistent irrational fear of a specific object, activity or situation; recurrent severe panic attacks; recurrent obsessions; or recurrent and intrusive recollections of a traumatic experience. These conditions must cause either marked restriction in the activities of daily living or in maintaining social function.

Proving the existence of an eligible mental illness can be very difficult. Much of the diagnostic evidence is subjective, i.e., provided by the patient's descriptions of his or her emotions, and only rarely are such diseases verifiable by an objective test such as a blood scan or x-ray. Anyone considering filing an application for SSDI benefits based on a mental illness may wish to consult a lawyer who handles such claims.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, 12.00 Mental Disorders - Adult," accessed on Sept. 4, 2016

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