When a physical injury makes you unable to work, applying for disability benefits can be obvious. But what happens when a mental condition interferes with your ability to perform your job?

Mental conditions are not as easy to see as physical ones. But they affect the ability to work just as much. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that 35.2% of those receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) have a mental condition. But qualifying for SSDI can prove more difficult for those affected by mental conditions.

A difficult process

Qualifying for SSDI isn’t easy for anyone. The Social Security Administration (SSA) denies most claims at first. Applicants must have proper work history. Their applications must have adequate documentation to prove that their disability qualifies. Many applicants only receive benefits after a long appeal process.

Increased difficulty for mental conditions

When you send your application to the SSA, the people who review your case are not mental health professionals. This can mean that they may not be familiar with your condition. They will rely on SSA guidelines for what constitutes a disability. They will also need enough documentation to confirm that your condition is severe enough to prevent you from working.

Mental conditions are often harder to prove. And people are less likely to seek treatment for a medical condition until it severely affects their lives. This can mean less documentation, leading to a denial for those who need benefits.

Increasing the chance of an approval

When SSA officials review your application, they will use the “listing of impairments.” This is a list created by the SSA to categorize and define qualifying disabilities. If you have documented proof of a listed impairment, it is more likely the SSA will approve your application.

If your condition is not on the list, you can still qualify. You just need to prove that your condition is as severe as the ones in the listing of impairments.

Applying for disability benefits can be difficult. Having to prove an unseen condition can make that even more difficult. Make sure to consult an attorney when applying.

Disability benefits are available for you if you can’t work. Understanding what you need for your application can help you ensure you receive them.