Being diagnosed with a mental condition is shocking and life altering. As many individuals in New Jersey and elsewhere are diagnosed later in life, it can be extremely overwhelming. What is also difficult is the actual impact the mental condition has on one’s life. For some, it can be so disruptive that they are no longer able to maintain a social life, do much outside of the home or even hold down a job. Such a situation can cause many hardships, especially financial.

What qualifies a person for SSD for a mental disorder? While there are a wide range of mental conditions what could qualify a person for Social Security disability benefits, the focus of this blog will be on depression, bipolar and other relative disorders.

When claiming a depressive disorder, medical documents must prove certain characteristics. According to the Social Security Administration, this means that an applicant must have a depressive disorder that is characterized by five or more of their listed factors. This includes “depressed mood, diminished interest in almost all activities, appetite disturbance with changes in weight, sleep disturbance, observable psychomotor agitation or retardation, decreased energy, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, difficulty concentrating or thinking or thoughts of death or suicide.”

With regards to bipolar disorder, an individual must have three or more of the traits laid out by the SSA. These include “pressured speech, flight ideas, inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, distractibility, involvement in activities that have a high probability of pain consequences that are not recognized or an increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation.”

In addition to meeting these characteristics, one must experience either an extreme limitation of one form of mental function or a marked limitation in two mental functions. This includes difficulty applying, remembering or understanding information, concentrating, interacting with others, or lacking ability to maintain pace or adapt or manage oneself. If one’s mental disorder is considered serious and persistent and documented medical history proves that existence of the disorder for at least two years, this could take the place of the proof of limitations.

Living with a mental condition is not easy. While there are ways to treat these conditions, this does not mean a person will be able to return to their normal life right away or even at all. Therefore, it is important to consider the availability of SSD benefits and how to go about collecting them.