A chronic medical condition that causes you to be disabled and unable to work may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. People frequently associate a chronic and disabling condition with a physical impairment, but you can also have a mental disorder that may meet the definition for a qualifying impairment used by the Social Security Administration when evaluating an application for SSD benefits.
A free consultation with an SSD lawyer at NY Disability offers a personalized evaluation of the circumstances specific to your situation, including your medical condition and disability. The information in this article gets you started with an overview of mental impairments and the process used by the SSA to evaluate them.
Nonmedical Criteria to Qualify for SSD
You must meet medical and nonmedical guidelines to qualify for SSD. To qualify, you must have worked at a job or earned income through self-employment and paid taxes under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act, or FICA as it is more commonly known, which are deducted from wages or paid directly by self-employed individuals.
You must have worked long enough to be eligible under the SSD program. However, working long enough may not be enough to qualify for SSD. The reason is that some of the work history must be recent and meet guidelines based on your age at the onset of the disability.
Social Security determines whether you meet the work guidelines based on the number of work credits you earned. For 2021, you earn one work credit for each $1,470 wages or self-employment income during the year up to a maximum of four credits. The number of work credits needed to qualify increases the older you are when you become disabled.
For example, someone disabled and unable to work at 30 years of age needs fewer work credits than someone disabled at age 40. An SSD attorney at NY Disability will review your work history to determine if you worked long enough and earned work credits recently enough to qualify for benefits based on your circumstances.
If you do not meet the nonmedical requirements to qualify for benefits through the SSD program, you may be eligible through the Supplemental Security Income or SSI program that also pays disability benefits, but the nonmedical guidelines for SSI place drastic limits on your income and financial resources. Our attorney can discuss the options you have should you not qualify for SSD based on your work history.
Qualifying for Benefits with a Mental Disorder
If you meet the nonmedical guidelines to qualify for SSD, you are only part of the way toward qualifying for benefits. You must have a disability that meets the definition used by Social Security.
A disability for purposes of qualifying for SSD is when a medically determinable physical or mental condition prevents a person from engaging in substantial gainful activity. Short-term or partial disability does not satisfy the definition used by Social Security. The impairment must last or be expected to last for at least a continuous 12-month period, or it must be expected to result in the death of the person.
Social Security uses an evaluation process to determine what mental disorders qualify for SSD. It looks at the following during the process:
- The severity of the impairment.
- Whether the impairment meets or equals a mental impairment from the Listing of Impairments, which has been referred to as the “Bluebook,” maintained by Social Security.
- Whether, despite the impairment, you can do the type of work you did in the past.
- Whether, despite the impairment, you have the ability, either with or without vocational training, to engage in other types of work.
A mental impairment must be severe enough to prevent you from performing what are considered to be normal activities associated with work. These activities include the ability to remember, sitting, standing, lifting, bending, and walking. A mental impairment on the Listing of Impairments has already been evaluated by Social Security and is considered to be severe.
Types of Mental Disorders in the Bluebook
The Listing of Impairments contains both physical and mental conditions affecting all major systems of the body for adults and children. It is used to evaluate impairments in adults applying for SSI or SSD. Mental disorders from the Listing of Impairments that may qualify you for disability benefits include the following:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Depression and bipolar disorder.
- Eating and excessive-compulsive disorders
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Traumatic brain injury.
- Intellectual developmental disorders.
- Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Simply because a mental disorder does not appear on the Listing of Impairments does not mean you cannot qualify for SSD. The disorder you have will be evaluated to determine whether your medical records, including notes and reports of evaluations and testing, support it as causing you to be disabled within the definition used by Social Security.
An SSD attorney Can Be a Valuable Resource
Working with an SSD lawyer from NY Disability to file an initial claim for SSD benefits or to appeal the denial of a claim gives you someone with extensive knowledge of the rules, regulations, and procedures used by Social Security to evaluate mental health disorders. Call us today at 718-691-7475 for a free consultation.