Living with a mental illness is rarely easy. Many mental illnesses prevent Americans from enjoying daily life, making plans and even working. Government aid agencies take mental disorders seriously, even offering temporary medical assistance to those in need.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees benefits for disabled Americans and their families. Those suffering from mental disorders or illness may qualify for benefits to help them through a challenging time.

Establishing eligibility for SSDI

The social security disability insurance (SSDI) program provides health insurance to eligible applicants. For mental illness, the SSA refers to the Blue Book’s qualifying conditions to determine eligibility. Qualifying mental disorders fall into nine categories:

  • Affective disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Autism-spectrum disorders
  • Mental retardation
  • Organic disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Psychotic disorders including paranoia and schizophrenia
  • Somatoform disorders
  • Substance addiction

Each category contains qualifying conditions that the SSA references to determine eligibility. Applicants must show medical evidence of their condition and be unable to work for at least 12 months. For example, someone suffering from depression will qualify if they meet five of the nine Blue Book conditions for depression and extreme difficulty in one of the following four areas:

  1. Remembering, understanding and applying learned information
  2. Social interactions
  3. Concentration
  4. Appropriate control of one’s emotions

Other necessary qualifications

To receive benefits, applicants must also have paid into the Social Security program through payroll taxes for five of the last ten years. The amount an applicant will receive per month relates to the amount paid. SSDI payments for 2014 averaged at $1,165 per month. An applicant’s spouse and children may also receive SSDI benefits, which will last for 24 months. After that, coverage switches to Medicare.

Low-income applicants may also receive Social Security Income (SSI) benefits that provide additional funds to cover other expenses.

Need to apply for SSDI? Consider legal assistance

Those applying for disability benefits due to mental illness find more success conferring with a lawyer familiar with securing benefits in Indiana. An attorney can review an application, refer knowledgeable doctors and even file appeals as needed.