There is no doubt that having a mental illness affects your life in many ways. For those who find themselves unable to perform simple job functions due to a mental health condition, considering disability benefits may be the best option.
In recent years the Social Security Administration has moved to modify the rules that apply to those who have documented mental illnesses. The National Alliance of Mental Illnesses (NAMI) has been working extensively with the Social Security and Disability Administration to determine the definitions of mental disabilities and the diagnostic criteria. It is no secret that despite these advancements and the input from the National Institute of Mental Heath (NIMH) the process to obtain Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Social Security Income (SSI) is incredibly complicated and arduous.
Currently, nine categories of mental illness qualify for SSDI and SSI. In order to qualify, you must also be able to furnish proof of ongoing therapy and documentation of continued treatment. Each disorder must then meet an extensive list of criteria for qualifying for SSDI and SSI. Persons with multiple disabling factors such as co-occurring mental illnesses, physical limitations or other medical conditions must have their qualifying conditions and their mental illness listed. These conditions are all assigned a value or a score in the review process that helps determine whether you are eligible for benefits.
According to the Social Security Administration, the following disorders are recognized for disability:
- Substance Addiction - In order to be considered disabled because of a substance abuse addiction, you must have medical records which document enrollment and completion of treatment programs and continued substance abuse counseling. Documentation of debilitating medical conditions as a result of the substance abuse is required. This can include, but is not limited to, kidney, liver or respiratory diseases.
- Personality Disorders - While there are many criteria for disability due to personality disorders, the care for these conditions must be documented by a medical provider and the condition must interfere with your ability to hold gainful employment or function in social settings. The following symptoms may support the diagnosis and claim for disability:
- Constant mood disturbance
- Passiveness or dependence on others
- Aggressiveness or inappropriate hostility
- Autistic thinking
- Chronic paranoia
- Unhealthy Relationships - dependancy, extreme co-dependancy
- Abnormal perception, speech, thought and behavior patterns
- Affective Disorders - Even with treatment, you may be considered disabled if your affective disorder makes it difficult for you to work or if you have trouble being successful outside of a controlled environment.
- Autism and Other Spectrum Related Disorders - Qualifying for disability with these disorders requires that the patient is largely nonverbal, has difficulty interacting with others and has restrictive or repetitive patterns of behavior that inhibit their ability to work.
- Organic Mental Disorders - These disorders are more broadly defined, however, documented care for the conditions and symptoms must span at least two years and the symptoms must not be able to be explained by another illness or disorder. Some conditions that must be present as well include:
- Unable to function in social situations
- Inability to apply or use presented information
- Difficulty concentrating
- Hallucinations or delusions
- Unable to orient to time and place
- Impaired short or long term memory
- Difficulty concentrating or keeping pace
- Mood disturbances
- Largely Inactive
- Preoccupations or hyper focused behaviors
- Schizophrenia, Psychotic and Paranoia Disorders - Requires two or more years of treatment for this diagnosis. The patient may also need to show that they are unable to live without support and care on their own. Additional criteria for disability consideration may include:
- Periods of withdrawal and isolation
- Irrational or illogical thinking
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Comatose behavior
- Chaotic or illogical behavior
- Inability to manage self
- Mental Handicaps - Extremely low IQ and inability to meet their daily living needs.
- Somatoform Disorders - Unexplained mental illness symptoms must be documented by medical professionals over the course of several years up to age 30. These symptoms must be accompanied by additional criteria like limb use loss, blindness, deafness, loss of speech, movement and loss or heightening of sensation.
- Anxiety Disorders - Documented care and treatment for irrational or chronic fear, panic attacks, obsessive or compulsive behaviors, social anxiety or other chronic anxieties that interfere with day to day living.
For a complete listing of all qualifying conditions and the determination criteria, talk with your physician or therapist. They will be able to advise you whether your history meets the requirements. The process to apply for and receive SSDI and SSI can take months, or even years. Working together with your care team will help you navigate the process more easily and effectively.
Additional conditions that may qualify under the mental disorders category are:
- Postpartum depression
- Eating disorders
- Panic attacks
- Chronic insomnia
- Memory loss
- Bipolar disorder
- Asperger's syndrome
- Drug addiction
- Social anxiety
- Mood disorder
- Schizoaffective disorder
Charlotte Mental Health Services You Can Trust
If you, or someone you love, struggles with mental illness, Legacy Freedom can help. Our holistic approach to mental health is unlike any other program. Our focus is on the whole person, not just their mental illness. By combining traditional talk and group therapy with more than ten different alternative therapies, access to a dietician and a physical therapist our approach to mental health centers around you. Whether your mental illness has been newly diagnosed or you have struggled to manage your mental health needs for years, Legacy Freedom can help.
Our holistic approach helps get to the root of your mental health issues and any co-occurring mental illnesses. We invite you to learn more about our alternative therapies and our approach to mental health care. We think you will agree that Legacy Freedom of Charlotte is unlike anything you have tried before. Our care team is ready to help you stop living in the cycle of mental illness and help you begin your journey towards living your best life. For tips on talking on reaching out for help, see our previous post. Call or click today for quality Charlotte mental health services!