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When Emotional Issues Prevent You From Working

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If you are unable to work at your job, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers people that qualify monthly payments. While this program is well known for providing benefits to those who suffer from physical ailments, the program also covers those with mental ailments. If you are one of the 14.8 million people who are afflicted with a qualifying disorder to the point that you can no longer perform at your job, you may be able to get some social security benefits from the SSA. To learn more, read on.

Mental Disorders

To get benefits from the SSA, your illness has to appear on the list of covered disorders known colloquially as the blue book. Most mental illnesses are on the list, from depression to bipolar disorder to schizophrenia. Unfortunately, having a mental disorder that appears on the list is only the beginning of the requirements.

Length of Disability

The SSA benefit program is not meant to cover transient or temporary disorders. You must prove that your mental illness has prevented you from working at your job for at least a year, or that it is expected to do so for at least a year in the future. To prove this, you will need to show medical records. If you suspect that you have a mental illness, seek treatment from a doctor or mental health professional. 

The SSA does not require that you see a psychologist or psychiatrist, but those professionals are experts at treatment. You can, however, see your family doctor and be prescribed medication or other treatments for your illness. You should stay in treatment and keep all of your appointments. It's important both for your mental health and to prove your SSA case.

Linking Your Illness to Your Job

The SSA requires not only that you have satisfied the above two requirements, but that you be unable to complete the tasks of your job due to your illness. While being depressed can make almost everything you do seem difficult, you need to be able to compare your job tasks with the symptoms of your disease. For example, section 12.06 of the SSA list of covered disorders addresses anxiety disorders. If your previous job required you to appear in public, to speak before a group, to travel, or any other job tasks that are impossible to do given your anxiety disorder, you may qualify for benefits.

Getting the SSA to cover any illness can be a challenge, and many applicants get turned down. You are entitled to be heard at an appeal hearing, however, so speak with an attorney for representation at that hearing.