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Social Security disability options for mental conditions

Social Security disability benefits may be available for disabled individuals who suffer from mental conditions; they may be able to receive Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income. Essentially, qualifying for SSD is based on work history, while SSI is based on need. Both may be available based on a disability caused by a medical condition or mental condition.

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits based on a mental condition, the condition must prevent the applicant from working. Unfortunately, mental conditions can be more challenging to establish than physical conditions or diseases for the purposes of disability benefits. The Social Security Administration has developed a list of mental conditions that it considers prevent disabled individuals from engaging in gainful work. The SSA reviews the applicant's symptoms to determine if they meet the conditions on the list to qualify for disability benefits.

Some of the mental conditions on the SSA's list include schizophrenia, autism, mental retardation, depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. In circumstances where the applicant suffers from a mental condition not on the list, the applicant can still apply for benefits and demonstrate that the mental condition they suffer from prevents them from being able to work and is expected to last for a year or more. Determinations can be subjective and may be based on medical records, a questionnaire the applicant fills out or feedback from family and friends concerning the applicant. A medical exam may also be required and is paid for by the SSA.

Because disability benefits are important for many disabled individuals and the process can be challenging, it can be useful to have knowledgeable help throughout the process. Disabled individuals who are in need of disability benefits should have the resources available to obtain benefits when needed.

Source: FindLaw, "Mental Health Disability Claims," Accessed May 21, 2016

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