Social Security Disability and Mental Illness

Social Security Disability:  9 Mental Disorder Categories

When it comes to submitting your Social Security disability application, claimants are more likely to gain approval if they understand what proof the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires.  There are nine categories that the SSA uses to assess mental disorders and approve or deny benefits.  If your ability to work is impeded by one of the following disorders, you may be eligible to apply for benefits:

  1. Organic Mental Disorders – Characterized by mental and behavioral dysfunction, stemming from an organic factor, that is repetitive and/or a deteriorating condition.  Specifically, these disorders cause changes or corrosion of normal cognitive function.
  2. Schizophrenic, Paranoid, and Other Psychotic Disorders – Typically marked by psychotic episodes, including hallucinations, incoherence, or emotional withdrawal.  
  3. Affective Disorders – Conditions with marked mood disturbances.  Mood disturbances could be manifested as depressive or manic episodes, or a combination of the two.
  4. Mental Retardation – Stunted developmental or intellectual growth, characterized by the inability to care for themselves or otherwise function independently.
  5. Anxiety-Related Disorders – Manifestations of anxieties, usually including issues like intense phobias, panic attacks, obsessions, and compulsions.
  6. Somatoform Disorders – Disorders for which no physical cause can be found, but that persistently hinder the ability for the sufferer to lead a normal life.  Symptoms may present themselves or may be perceived by the sufferer.
  7. Personality Disorders – Marked by personality traits that resist adaptation.  Traits can be mood disturbances, thought processes, or other traits like hostility, paranoia, or dependence.  The disorder must not be limited to infrequent episodes, but a long-term impediment in the individual’s life.
  8. Substance Addiction Disorders – Affectations or changes stemming from substance abuse or addiction.
  9. Autistic Disorder or Other Developmental Disorders – Marked by impaired development, usually in the realms of communication, imagination, and social interaction.

 If your physician has diagnosed you with one of the above mental disorders, be sure to incorporate that evidence into your claim.  It is critical that you include with your claim any documentation that you have regarding your disorder, as well as any other symptoms or disorders from which you suffer.  To receive Social Security benefits, your illness or disorder must be interfering with your ability to function in your current or prior jobs, or your ability to hold down any other gainful employment.    

If your claim is denied, talk to your disability attorney about possible steps for appealing the decision. 

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