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Are SSDI approvals for mental health conditions down?

May is Mental Health Awareness month. While mental health and the many stigmas that are often associated with certain conditions have been more of a focus in recent years, there is still a long way to go before individuals fully understand how mood disorders, memory conditions, psychotic disorders and others affect a person’s life and abilities. During this awareness month, it may be worthwhile to consider how mental health conditions are commonly addressed when it comes to seeking Social Security disability benefits (SSDI).

For some people, mental health conditions can be so debilitating that they significantly affect a person’s ability to work. However, many people who cannot work due to a mental health-related condition are denied benefits from the Social Security Administration, which is typical for most first-time applicants with varying conditions. Still, recent reports indicate that the number of approvals for those with mental health conditions may be decreasing.

The comparison in the report looks at the 2018 and 2019 SSA approval rates, and the information concluded the following:

  • In 2019, about 3,000 fewer applicants with mood disorders were approved for SSDI.
  • Some of those who applied for benefits in 2019 indicated memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, delirium and amnesia, but only 2.2% of those applicants were approved for government benefits.
  • Individuals with certain psychotic disorders only obtained an approval rate of 1.8%.
  • Representatives for agencies promoting mental health alliances believe that the low approval rates could stem from a lack of understanding and awareness about these conditions and their debilitating symptoms.

Facing the stigma of having a mental health condition can often feel debilitating itself. When the SSA denies a person with a such a condition SSDI benefits, these individuals may feel even more downtrodden and out of hope. Fortunately, individuals who face a denial can often take steps to appeal the initial decision in hopes of pursuing the benefits they need.

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