Can You Receive Social Security Disability for Mental Diagnosis?

by | Sep 9, 2019 | SSD Qualification

Yes! You can receive Social Security Disability benefits for a mental diagnosis. The key is to show that you meet the criteria and that you are receiving treatment.

To find out more about about receiving benefits for a mental diagnosis, take these three steps. Contact us today to find answers to your questions about applying for Social Security benefits, see if you qualify by answering five simple questions on our website homepage, and read this article to understand how the process works.

Mental Disorder Categories for Social Security Benefits

The Social Security Administration recognizes nine main categories of mental disorders. If you received a diagnosis for one of the following and are unable to work, read on for your options:

  • Affective Disorders
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Autism and related disorders
  • Mood Disorder
  • Organic Mental Disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Schizophrenia, paranoia and psychotic disorders
  • Somatoform disorders
  • Substance addiction

Documenting Disability for Common Mental Diagnoses

Each mental diagnosis has unique characteristics and requirements for proving eligibility for disability coverage. Let’s look a little closer at what the Social Security Administration says are some of the most common mental disorders.

Affective Disorders

The requirements vary by the type of affective disorder. However, in general, you must have medical documentation showing that — despite undergoing treatment — the disorder affects your ability to function. For affective disorders, you must show that:

  • You have been in treatment for two years and cannot function outside of a supportive environment or
  • You have medical documentation giving sufficient evidence that your condition hinders you from reasonably being expected to function in any work environment.

Anxiety Disorders

With anxiety disorders, your medical evidence must show that you have at least one of the following.

  • Persistent anxiety with appropriate symptoms
  • Constant irrational fear
  • Recurring, unpredictable panic attacks at least weekly
  • Recurring compulsions and obsessions leading to significant distress

Autism and Related Disorders

For autism or similar extensive developmental disorders, you must show that the condition limits your ability to communicate, engage in activities, and interact socially.

Mood Disorder

You may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if you provide medical documentation showing dependence for personal needs such as bathing, eating, getting dressed, and using the toilet. Or, that your IQ is less than 60, or less than 70 if combined with other mental or physical conditions.

Organic Mental Disorders

To qualify for benefits, the medical evidence needs to show that your disorder has continued for two years or more despite treatment. You may also qualify if you have at least one condition from both lists below.

  1. Time and place disorientation
  2. Impaired Memory (short or long term)
  3. Hallucinations or delusions
  4. Personality changes
  5. Mood disturbances
  6. Lability of emotions


  1. Significant limitation of daily living activities
  2. Significant limitation in social situations
  3. Difficulty concentrating or keeping pace
  4. Extended and repeated periods of decompensation
  5. Loss of 15 or more points of IQ

Personality Disorders

With a personality disorder you will need evidence showing that your condition causes you to be unable to adapt to social or work situation and that it has caused long-term problems. The disorder must cause at least one of the symptoms below:

  • Autistic thinking
  • Seclusion
  • Inappropriate hostility
  • Inappropriate suspiciousness
  • Odd thought, speech, behavior or perception patterns
  • Aggressiveness
  • Dependence
  • Passiveness
  • Constant mood disturbances
  • Impulsive, damaging behavior, especially regarding relationships

Psychotic Disorders (including Paranoia and Schizophrenia)

For psychotic disorders, you must have medical documentation for two or more years showing that your condition limits your ability to function in a work environment. You may also qualify if you have one of the following conditions:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Catatonia
  • Disorganized behavior
  • Incoherence
  • Illogical thinking
  • Speech significantly affected by blunt effect, inappropriate affect, or flat affect
  • Isolation and emotional withdrawal

Somatoform Disorders

To qualify to receive Social Security Disability benefits you will need medical documentation showing that by age 30 you had a history of having unexplained physical symptoms that lasted for several years.

You will generally qualify for disability if the symptoms involve loss of sight, hearing, speech, movement, loss or heightening of sensation, or loss of use of one or more limbs.

Substance Abuse

You will need medically documented evidence that your substance abuse issue causes you to meet the requirements for one of the other mental disorders above.

Other Conditions

Other conditions may qualify under the mental disorders evaluation:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Memory loss
  • Panic Attacks
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Support for Your Disability Application

For all of the listed conditions we have mentioned, your medical records will need to show that your mental disorder significantly impacts your ability to function in normal work and social conditions.

As disability attorneys we are trained to identify claims that may be eligible for faster approval.

Contact Disability Apply today to see if you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits for a mental diagnosis.

Do You Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

    1. Do you expect to be out of work for at least 12 months?

    2. Did you earn taxable income for 5 of the last 10 years?

    3. Are you currently receiving disability benefits?

    4. Have you seen a doctor within the last 12 months?

    5. Are you currently working with a disability advocate?

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