The Social Security Administration uses pre-established mental health guidelines to determine which applicants for benefits qualify. These disabling impairments and their criteria are listed in what is referred to as the Blue Book. It lists the exact criteria and conditions that will allow an individual to qualify for and collect Social Security Disability benefits. There are a total of 9 mental health categories covered, and they are:
- Anxiety Disorders
- Affective Disorders
- Autism Spectrum
- Mental Retardation
- Organic Disorders
- Personality Disorders
- Psychotic Disorders
- Somatoform Disorders
- Substance Addiction Disorders
Each category is evaluated with its own criteria, and to qualify for benefits, the applicant will need to show that they meet said criteria. An alternative is to show that the cumulative effect of multiple disabling conditions is equivalent to the accepted criteria.
To claim SSDI benefits for an anxiety disorder, you must have medical evidence demonstrating at least one of the following:
- Compulsions and obsessions that result in distress
Recurring and unpredictable anxiety or panic attacks weekly
- Persistent irrational fear
- Persistent anxiety with symptoms like motor tension
The requirements to qualify for SSDI with an affective disorder you will need to demonstrate two years of treatment along with the inability to function outside of a supportive environment or have documentation that acts as evidence showing your condition effectively prevents functioning in any work environment.
You will need to show demonstrably that the condition prevents normal communication, social interaction, and engagement. You must also show that these limitations prevent your ability to work.
You, or your ward, will qualify if you can show documentation showing any one of the following:
- Depending on others for personal care, like bathing, eating, using the bathroom
- IQ of less than 60
- IQ less than 70, combined with other physical or mental conditions that preclude working
You may qualify for benefits if you can show that you have been receiving treatment for one or more of the following for two years with the persistence of the condition.
- Time and place confusion
- Memory disorders
- Personality changes
- Mood disturbances
- Limitations of daily activities
- Limitations of socialization
- Loss of 15 IQ points or more
You will need to show evidence of your condition causing you to be unable to adapt to a social or work setting. Your disorder will also need to show at least one additional symptom such as seclusion, autistic thinking, hostility, passiveness, odd behavior patterns, impulsive damaging behavior, and more.
Qualifying for SSDI under this category requires medical documentation showing two years or more of your condition’s impact on your ability to be in a work environment. You may also be able to qualify if you have any symptoms that severely affect your ability to be in a social or work setting, like hallucinations, delusions, incoherence, and more.
For somatoform disorders, you will need medical evidence showing a history lasting several years of physical symptoms that require drastic lifestyle changes, by the age of 30.
Substance Addiction Disorders
To qualify for SSDI for substance abuse disorders, you must prove with medical documentation that the abuse issues have resulted in a mental disorder, neurological disorder, or digestive disorder.