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When you think about disability, physical impairments probably come to mind. However, mental health issues can also be debilitating enough to prevent a person from working and completing other activities of daily living. 

If you struggle with mental illness, learn more about whether you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance. 

Criteria for mental health SSDI 

As with a physical disorder, a doctor must have diagnosed you with a mental illness to be eligible for SSDI. You must have medical documentation indicating that the disorder will likely last a year or longer, prevents you from doing your job and keeps you from pursuing training for a new career. 

Eligible types of mental illness 

Although you may qualify for SSDI with any type of mental disorder that meets the criteria above, most eligible illnesses fall into these categories: 

  • Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia 
  • Organic disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia 
  • Mood conditions such as depression and bipolar disorder 
  • Anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder 
  • Learning disabilities 
  • Personality disorders 
  • Alcoholism and other types of substance use disorder 
  • Developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder 

Each of these categories has its own qualifications for SSDI, which you can find in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book. For example, to receive SSDI for a mood (affective) disorder, you must provide medical documentation of your inability to work and/or undergo at least two years of supportive treatment before your application. 

Required documentation 

Because the symptoms of many mental health disorders are subjective, you can support your SSDI application with detailed information about how your condition affects your ability to work and perform other daily activities. Keep a journal that describes situations in which your mental health prevented you from working or completing important tasks. You can also gather letters from your employer, your doctor and your psychiatrist about the impact of your mental health on your ability to hold your current or previous job and to qualify for new employment.