Eligible Disabilities

Mental Disorder

The Blue Book is used by the Social Security Administration to establish guidelines for which conditions qualify a claimant for Social Security disability benefits. There are nine categories of mental disorders covered in the Blue Book. These include:

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

Each type of disorder is evaluated according to its own set of criteria. To qualify for benefits with that condition, you must be able to show that you meet the criteria or that the sum total of all of your disabling conditions is equivalent to the listed criteria or otherwise completely hinders you from engaging in any gainful activity.

No matter the type of mental disorder you were diagnosed with, it is critically important to provide sufficient evidence of your diagnosis, your treatment regimen, and the fact that you are complying with the recommended treatment plan.

Anxiety Disorders

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits with an anxiety disorder, the medical evidence must show that you have at least one of the following:

  • Persistent anxiety with appropriate symptoms (i.e., motor tension, apprehensive expectation, etc.)
  • Constant irrational fear
  • Recurring, unpredictable panic attacks at least weekly
  • Recurring compulsions and obsessions leading to significant distress
  • In addition, the evidence must show that these conditions significantly impact your ability to function in normal work and social conditions.

Autism and Related Disorders

To qualify for disability benefits with autism or similar pervasive development disorders, you will need to show that the condition limits the ability to communicate, engage in activities outside of a few interests, and interact socially. Further, you must be able to show that these limitations cause significant difficulty in your ability to function in work and social situations.

  • Communicate
  • Participate in social interactions
  • Participate in activities outside of a finite number of interests

Mental Retardation

You (or one whom you represent) will qualify for disability benefits based on mental retardation if you have medical documentation showing any of the following conditions:

  • Dependence for personal needs such as bathing, eating, getting dressed, and using the toilet.
  • IQ of less than 60
  • IQ of less than 70 combined with other conditions (mental or physical) which limit your ability to function in a work environment, your social situations, or your daily living activities

Organic Mental Disorders

To qualify for disability benefits with organic mental disorders, the medical evidence needs to show that your disorder has continued for two years or more despite treatment and that it hinders you from performing even basic work functions. Alternately, you may qualify if you have at least one condition from each of the columns in the chart below:

  • Time and place disorientation
  • Significant limitation of daily living activities
  • Impaired memory (short or long term)
  • Significant limitations in social situations
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Difficulty concentrating or keeping pace
  • Personality changes
  • Extended and repeated periods of decompensation
  • Mood disturbances
  • Loss of 15 or more points of IQ
  • Lability of emotions

Personality Disorders

To be eligible for Social Security benefits with a personality disorder, you need evidence showing that your condition causes you to be unable to adapt to social or work situations and that the condition has caused long-term problems. The disorder needs to cause at least one of these symptoms:

  •  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

To qualify for disability with psychotic disorders, you must have medical documentation showing two years or more showing that your condition severely limits your ability to function in a work environment. The documentation must show that any change in your work situation would lead to more problems or that you are incapable of living outside of a supportive environment. Alternately, you may qualify if you have one of the following conditions and you can show that it severely affects your ability to function in a work or social environment:

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

Somatoform Disorders

To be eligible for disability benefits based upon a diagnosed somatoform disorder, you need to be prepared to submit evidence reflecting the fact that by the age of 30, you have a documented history of unexplained physical symptoms that have lasted for several years and these symptoms have had a significant negative impact on your life and ability to engage in work activities.

When it comes to somatoform disorders, you will likely qualify for disability benefits if your symptoms include the following:

  • Loss of speech
  • Loss of sight;
  • Loss of hearing;
  • Loss of movement;
  • Loss of sensations in your extremities; or
  • Loss of limb use

Substance Abuse

In order to qualify for disability benefits based on addiction to substances, you will need to submit evidence showing your substance abuse issue has caused you to meet the specific requirements provided in the Blue Book for a neurological disorder, digestive disorder, or other mental disorders.

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