Mental illnesses are far more prevalent than most people realize. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, roughly 1 in 25 adults experience a serious mental illness that impacts their life in a major way. For some, this means an inability to keep a job or earn a consistent living.
We don’t usually think of mental illness as a disability. Yet, as anyone with a serious mental illness knows, it can be debilitating. The affects of a mental illness are in some cases just as significant as a serious physical injury. They may leave you unable to function for weeks or months on end.
Which mental illnesses qualify?
If you’re unable to hold down a job because of a mental illness, you might be eligible for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). Diagnoses that may qualify as disabilities include:
- Autism and related disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Personality disorders
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
- Intellectual disabilities
- Substance addiction
To receive benefits, however, your illness must be well-documented and severe enough to interfere with your day-to-day functioning. The prognosis also matters: Your condition must be expected to last for at least a year.
Proving your case can be difficult
Because mental illnesses aren’t obvious in the same way as a broken bone or back injury, it can be difficult to prove that you’re disabled. A lot depends on showing how the illness affects your life, especially in the areas of:
- Daily activities such as hygiene, cooking, cleaning and driving
- Cognitive abilities such as concentration, memory and perception
- Social interactions with family, friends, coworkers and others
The SSA will also look at whether medications or treatments can help you function at a normal level.
No matter what type of mental illness you have, there’s no shame in getting help. Financial benefits are just one type of assistance that can make life a little easier when you’re already suffering.