4 Mental Illnesses That Qualify You For Disability Benefits

The range of disabilities that qualify people for disability benefits is extensive and includes many conditions that you may not expect would be eligible. Popular ideas about what a disability looks like are usually based on stereotypes, and may be inaccurate or even harmful.

Many people who live with disabilities use hearing aids, wheelchairs, or other items that are usually associated with disability status. Those who don’t are sometimes said to have “invisible disabilities,” and while these are no less serious, they pose special challenges for the people who have them.

Among the most misunderstood of these conditions are the ones referred to, collectively, as mental illness.

Mental illness as a qualifying disability status

Despite stereotypes and dehumanizing media portrayals, mental illness is quite common, and can take a number of very different forms. And just like other illnesses, conditions affecting a person’s thoughts or behaviors can range in severity.

While any of these conditions can potentially qualify a person for disability benefits, a few conditions commonly result in a person becoming unable to work.

1. Schizophrenia

This disabling condition is often the first one that comes to mind when the phrase “mental illness” is uttered. Symptoms vary from person to person, but schizophrenia often causes frightening hallucinations and delusions, as well as difficulties with self-care and cognition. Because of the effect this can have on a person’s ability to cope and function, people with schizophrenia often qualify for disability benefits, even with treatment.

2. Major depressive disorder

Often referred to as “clinical depression” or just simply “depression,” this mood disorder goes beyond normal sadness or low mood. However, it is still fairly common, and many people experience an episode of depression at some point in their life. Many treatments are available for depression, and some people respond well to these, but others don’t. Depression is a common, but underreported, cause of disability.

3. Bipolar disorder

People with this condition experience unstable emotional states. They may become severely depressed, extremely energetic, or a combination of the two extremes. In severe cases, people may lose touch with reality and act out delusions. This condition can be treated with mood stabilizers, but these may not be effective or tolerable for every person.

4. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is caused by exposure to a traumatic event. This condition is often seen in combat veterans, abuse survivors, and survivors of natural disasters.  Not everyone will develop PTSD after a traumatic event, but those who do are often disabled by their symptoms, which involve re-experiencing the event. Flashbacks, nightmares, and being easily startled are some of the most identifiable symptoms.

All these conditions are among the most well-known, there are many others that are just as disabling. Ultimately, it’s the degree of impairment, not the name of the disorder, that determines eligibility for disability benefits.

If your mental health status has become an obstacle to full-time employment, you may qualify for disability benefits. Contact our offices by phone, email, or text message, and we’ll help you navigate living life to the fullest with a disability.