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Does SSDI cover mental-health issues?

We all pay into federal payroll taxes each check with the comfort of knowing that if we're ever injured or otherwise disabled we have a social safety net on which to rely. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a government program designed to provide income to people who are unable to work because of their disabilities.

While it's easy to see that someone who is blind or someone who is confined to a wheelchair might have difficulty working, other disabilities aren't so readily apparent. Mental disabilities may impinge holding down full-time work just as much as physical disabilities, but other people might not be able to see this. Luckily, those suffering from medically documented mental impairments may qualify for SSDI.

The blue book

The SSDI's listing of impairments, also known colloquially as "the blue book," is a master list of specific disabilities covered under government rules. The listings are broken down into 14 sections including things like cardiovascular issues, musculoskeletal issues, respiratory disorders and others. Section12.00 covers mental-health disorders, and includes subsections on:

  • Neurocognitive disorders
  • Schizophrenia 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 disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Trauma and stressor-related disorders

Each of these subsections is further divided into qualifying symptoms and definitions. Some common mental-health disorders that are addressed include autism, major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder.

Qualifying for SSDI

To qualify for SSDI benefits for a mental disorder - or any disability, for that matter - some requirements must be met:

  • The impairment must be expected to last at least a year or result in your death
  • You can no longer do the work you once did
  • Your condition will not let you adjust to working a different job
  • Your condition is on the listing of impairments (or is deemed severe enough by Social Security Administration)
  • You have paid into SSDI via payroll taxes for at least five of the last 10 years


Applying for SSDI can be a strenuous and difficult process. Struggling with a mental disorder can make the task all that much more exhausting. There are forms to fill out, medical records to collect and numbers to crunch. If you are having difficulty applying for SSDI for your mental health issue, consider enlisting the help of an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process.

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Axelrod & Associates, P.A.
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