Do I need to meet all of the requirements for mental illness in order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits?

In order to obtain Social Security disability payments for mental illness, you must meet the basic criteria for any disorder: You must provide medical documentation regarding your impairment, evidence of your employment limitations, and proof that your work restrictions have lasted (or will last) for at least 12 months.

If you meet these qualifications, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will next look at the specific evidence of your illness, including:

  • Mood or Anxiety disorder. If you have been diagnosed with an Mood or Anxiety disorder, you should provide as much medical evidence as you can about your condition to the SSA.
  • Work limitations. The SSA will determine if your condition significantly limits your physical or mental ability to do basic work activities. This may include your past work as well as your ability to do any work in the future. 
  • Residual functional capacity. If you are not intellectually disabled and have no physical hindrances to performing work, the SSA will examine your residual functional capacity (RFC). The RFC measurement is used whenever a person’s impairment is severe, but does not meet the specific disability criteria. The SSA will need specific evidence of the limitations and daily complications that result from your illness and how they prevent you from earning a living.

As with most disability applications, the decision depends heavily on providing proof of your condition to the SSA. It is not enough to have been treated for mental illness in the past; you must also experience ongoing complications that will affect you in the future. For example, past hospitalization at Immanuel Medical Center in Omaha for mental health is proof of your condition, but does not necessarily mean you are disabled.

To find out what evidence can help get your disability application approved, send us an email at [email protected] to get answers to your questions, or click the link on this page to order our free informational guide, Why You Should Hire an Attorney to Handle Your Social Security Disability Claim.

Timothy J. Cuddigan
Omaha Social Security and Veterans Disability Lawyer With Over 40 Years Experience