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Mental illness and Social Security Disability benefits

On Behalf of | Aug 13, 2020 | Firm News

All of us go through times in our lives when we may be depressed or anxious. Loved ones die, we lose jobs, wind up divorced and otherwise downtrodden in our lives. In fact, the future can start looking pretty grim.

At times like these, seeking the counsel of a mental health professional is typically the preferred course of action. You and your therapist can work together to devise a treatment plan that may include pharmaceutical intervention and talk therapy. Most people are able to manage these occasional bouts of anxiety and depression and go on to lead full and rewarding lives.

When it’s more than just the blues

But not everyone can shake off the chains of mental illness so easily. For some, the symptoms of their mental illness become so overwhelming that they cannot cope. They lose jobs, get evicted and may even wind up living on the street. Some face chronic or intermittent institutionalization where psychiatrists and therapists try to get them on a treatment regime that might allow them to once again live independently.

Serious mental illness diagnoses may qualify patients for SSDI, SSI benefits

Not everyone with a mental health diagnosis can or should qualify for Social Security Disability (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. But if you are struggling to cope with major mental illness and its repercussions, you may indeed be eligible for benefits based on your impairment.

It’s important to understand that the two programs are separate and rely on different criteria for eligibility. SSDI is based on your disability plus the amount of money that you have already paid into the system via Social Security deductions over your lifetime. You also must have had FICA deductions taken out of your paychecks for at least five years of the past decade of your application.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are need-based with far more stringent eligibility requirements. If you have very few resources and assets, this program may be able to help you meet your basic needs as well as have access to quality medical care.

Learn more about the application process

An SSDI/SSI benefits attorney is a good source of valuable information about your potential eligibility for benefits and the application process itself. Most applicants are turned down on their first attempts to apply, so don’t lost heart if that is the case. Many win their cases on appeal and are awarded benefits retroactively.