Mental health disorders are a common occurrence across the country. About one in every five U.S. adults – that’s 43 million people – suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. And about 10 million cope with “serious functional impairment” as a result of their disorder, the National Institute of Mental Health says.

For those dealing with disruptive mental disorders, know this: There are certain circumstances in which a mental disorder can qualify an individual for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

Disabling mental disorders

The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses something called a Blue Book to evaluate whether an applicant falls under one of its definitions of disabled. In this Blue Book, there are 11 categories of mental disorders recognized by the SSA. Those categories are:

  • Neurocognitive disorders
  • Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders
  • Depressive, bipolar and related disorders
  • Intellectual disorder
  • Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • Somatic symptom and related disorders
  • Personality and impulse-control disorders
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Trauma- and stressor-related disorder

Simply saying you have one of these ailments is not enough to secure Social Security Disability. Instead, the SSA requires you to demonstrate the disorder is sufficiently severe. Each of the listed mental disorder categories includes certain evidential markers an applicant has to meet.

For example, in order to receive Social Security Disability for anxiety, you would have to show your anxiety disorder consists of at least three of the symptoms listed in the Blue Book; and you have to either prove the existence of one or two limitations on mental functioning, or show the disorder is “serious and persistent.”

In addition, there may be circumstances in which a disorder not listed above could still qualify an individual for SSDI.

And of course, you must meet all the other general criteria required for Social Security Disability Insurance. In order to give yourself the best chance, it’s important to understand what you need to do, get help from reliable sources, and thoroughly prepare for what’s to come.