Is Mental Illness a Disability?

Yes, mental illness can be considered a disability by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Mental disorders are listed in the SSA’s Blue Book but to qualify as a disability your mental illness must be matched to the criteria in the specific listing. The Blue Book lists many different types of mental illness including but not limited to bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, autism, substance addiction and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

To qualify for a benefit, your symptoms must match the criteria in the listing for that illness as well as proof that it is sufficiently disabling to prevent you from working and that you are receiving treatment for the illness.

Is Mental Illness a Disability?

Yes, mental illnesses can be considered a disability by the SSA as long as the specific symptoms of your illness match the SSA’s criteria and that your symptoms prevent you from working for at least the next 12 months.

Types of Mental Illness That Are a Disability

There are many types of mental illness that are recognized as a potential disability by the SSA. These are listed in Section 12 of the Blue Book which deals with mental disorders. The Blue Book lists all mental disorders into the following eleven different categories:

  • neurocognitive disorders,
  • anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders,
  • autism spectrum disorders,
  • intellectual disabilities,
  • organic mental disorders,
  • personality and impulse-control disorders,
  • schizophrenia, paranoia, and other psychotic disorders,
  • somatoform disorders,
  • depressive, bipolar and related disorders.
  • eating disorders,
  • trauma and stressor related disorders.

Each mental illness is listed in one of these categories and symptoms are compared to the criteria in each listing before recognition as a disability.

How to Get Disability Benefits For Mental Illness

The main requirement for a mental illness disability benefit application approval is that you can show that your symptoms match the criteria in the relevant category in the Blue Book listing as described above and that these symptoms prevent you from gainful employment for at least the next 12 months. The SSA will need proof that your mental illness has been diagnosed by a qualified psychiatrist and that you have been receiving treatment up to and during the time you have made your application. If your benefit application is approved, you will still need to continue with treatment for your mental illness as part of the condition of ongoing benefit payments.

Get Help With Your Mental Illness Disability Claim

Disability benefit applications can be difficult as the SSA frequently rejects incomplete claims or claims where the evidence of sufficiently severe symptoms to prevent gainful employment is lacking. You may find that it is easier to gain approval for a disability benefit application if you hire a disability attorney to provide legal help.

Fill out a free case evaluation today.

Additional Resources

Find Out If I Qualify for Benefits!