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Mental Disability how long do I have to wait to get help?

If you have a severe mental disability such as depression, bi-polar, panic attacks or bi-polar disorder your condition could be so severe you are unable to work. Recently on our disability forum we had a user ask, “If I have a mental disability how long do I have to wait to get social security disability (SSDI) benefits

Qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) with a mental disability

If you have a mental disability the first question to ask is whether or not the SSA will consider you disabled. There is no reason to apply for SSDI if you do not meet the most basic SSDI requirements. For instance, for a mental disability you must be able to prove your condition is severe, it is going to last for at least 12 continuous months and it does not allow you to work. For SSDI you must also have enough work credits, which means you have worked and paid employment taxes and are considered “insured.”

Now, if you do not meet these criteria the SSA will consider you not disabled and they will automatically deny you case.

The SSA also has very specific criteria for determining if you are disabled. They do not care if you can find work, only if you can do work. So first they will evaluate your condition and see if it is on the SSA Listing of Impairments. The good news is there are a variety of mental disorders on the listing under 12.00 Mental Disorders. Just having a mental disability on this listing, however, will not be enough. You will also have to have the symptoms which correspond to each listing or prove your symptoms are as severe as those listed.

Meet criteria for a mental disability when can I expect my SSDI payment?

After reviewing the criteria above if you decide to submit your SSDI application for your mental disability there are several more things you should consider. First, the SSA will expect that you have seen a doctor,  you are following their prescribed treatment plan, but despite this, you still cannot work.

When you submit your SSDI application for your mental disability there is a five month waiting period.  According to the SSA, “Disability benefits for workers and widows usually cannot begin for 5 months after the established onset of the disability. Therefore, Social Security disability benefits will be paid for the sixth full month after the date the mental disability begins.”

So do you wait until you have been unemployed for 5 months to apply? No, you can apply as soon as you are not performing what the SSA considers substantial gainful activity. Consider, however, if you apply while you are working too much you will be automatically denied SSDI for your mental disability.

Bottom line

The bad news is there is millions of disability applications submitted each year to the SSA. Additionally, almost 70% of first time claims are denied. So when do you get benefits? The answer is it depends. If you meet a listing and the SSA processes your claim immediately it could be 90 days. If you are denied and have to appeal your case it could take months for them to process your mental disability claim. So before you quit work you should make sure you have saved sufficient funds to sustain you and your family for several months while the SSA is processing your SSDI claim for your mental disability.
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