Harlan Still & Koch

Claiming disability benefits for a mental illness

Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder can be pervasive enough to completely deplete a person's quality of life. Although a suffering person may not have any physical evidence of illness, mental health issues can be equally debilitating.

This is why it is possible to make a disability benefits claim on the basis of a mental health condition. If you are successful, it will enable you to gain financial support while you are unable to work due to your disabling condition.

What mental impairments are recognized?

There are many different mental impairments -- some of which are included in Social Security's official list of recognized conditions. Mental impairments that are listed include but are not limited to schizophrenia, autism, depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. Having one of these conditions does not automatically qualify you for benefits -- nor does having a condition that isn't on the list automatically disqualify you.

What do I need to prove to qualify for benefits?

You will need to show that your mental impairment is pervasive and severe enough to prevent you from gaining any type of meaningful employment. In addition, you will need to show that it is expected to last for at least 12 months (or has already lasted for a year or longer).

Will I be subject to performance tests?

The SSA will consider whether you are able to conduct small amounts of work while you are suffering from your disability. This is known as testing for residual functional capacity. This will be done to get a good overview of the extent to which your disability limits you.

If you are suffering from mental health issues that affect your ability to work, you may benefit from legal support as you seek benefits.

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