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Psychological Conditions and Social Security Disability (SSDI)

Social Security does not discriminate between physical and mental conditions.  The disability must be estimated to last for at least 12 months.  Social Security examiners are sometimes more skeptical of claims for mental and psychological conditions because of the possibility of fraud and the lack of concrete proof.  Do not take it personally. If your doctors support your disability claim and you meet Social Security’s criteria, your claim should be approved.

As with all claims, you can qualify for SSDI benefits based on a listed impairment.  Social Security has listings for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorder.  If you do not meet the very specific diagnostic criteria for one of these listings, you can still be approved under a medical-vocational allowance, which means that Social Security believes that your condition makes it impossible for you to work a 40-hour week at any job for which you are otherwise qualified.  In certain circumstances, Social Security will approve you for benefits because your condition is currently stable, but the demands of a job might cause your condition to degenerate.

Applicants may also combine claims for two or more emotional conditions, or for a combination of physical and emotional conditions.  Many people with physical conditions are understandably anxious and depressed, and they may not realize that telling Social Security about these problems will strengthen their claims.  Even if anxiety and depression do not in themselves meet the severity of a listed impairment, they can strengthen a claim for a medical-vocational allowance.

Applying for Social Security Disability based on psychological or mixed diagnoses is particularly complex. A knowledgeable Social Security attorney may be able to help you appeal a denial of your claim.