Can I Get Benefits to Cover Mental Health?
Do you struggle to make ends meet because of some kind of mental illness or neurological disorder? If your mental health limits your ability to work and provide for yourself and your family, you might be eligible for disability benefits to help.
While mental or emotional disabilities can be harder to verify and confirm for your disability application, at least when compared to common physical disabilities, the opportunity is there. Just because your condition is invisible to the naked eye doesn't mean it doesn't have a significant impact on your life.
Considering Your Options
You have several different options available if you're seeking social security benefits for a mental disorder. The two primary programs you might be eligible for are Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income. Both of them are run by the Social Security Administration, but their requirements and purposes are distinct.
Social Security Disability Insurance
The SSDI program essentially functions as a way for you to start earning your normal Social Security benefits at an earlier age. If you have worked long enough and paid into the Social Security system for enough years, you can start earning benefits by applying and documenting your disability to their satisfaction.
Supplementary Security Income
Meanwhile, SSI is a separate program that doesn't depend on your work history in the system. Disability benefits are paid out in this program to support any disabled individual or family that is depending on very little income.
All you have to do is prove your disability and show that your income falls beneath their standard. The money for this program comes out of normal taxes, not Social Security specifically.
Documenting Your Disability
The trickiest part of your claim, whether you apply through SSDI or SSI, will be proving your disability. Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration has a very strict and particular definition of disability. They also likely won't have mental health professionals reviewing your application.
Their strict understanding of disability means that, unlike some other providers of disability benefits, they do not recognize partial disabilities or temporary conditions that will only keep you from working for a year or less. In this case, disability means that you can't perform the work that you used to do, nor can you adapt to doing other suitable work instead.
Advocating for yourself in this process will be important. You need to gather as much evidence as possible to demonstrate to the SSA that your mental condition meets their listed requirements for recognizing it as a disability.
Don't Give Up
You should also understand that their definitions of mental disorders often vary from those used by medical professionals in the mental health field. You might qualify for SSI or SSI based on something other than your actual diagnosis.
You will want to gather and submit any and all documentation and records from professionals and others familiar with your condition and medical history. If you're struggling, you should consider finding someone familiar with the process to help you put together your application and give it the best possible chance of success.