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Can I get Social Security Disability (SSDI) for a Mental Illness?

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Question: I have been struggling with depression for a couple of decades. I have tried many things to combat it—medication, therapy, etc. The last year I have had to take two leaves of absence related to it. My doctor finally suggested that I apply for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI). Can I get SSDI for a condition that isn’t a physical illness?

Answer: One of the most in important things you need in order to qualify for SSDI benefits is evidence that proves the disability. It sounds like you have a lengthy history and documentation to prove it. That bodes well in your favor.

1. /You must have worked at least 40 quarters (10 years.) These quarters do not have to be consecutive. In other words, you may have gaps in your work history, but as long as you have 40 quarters of work, you can apply.

2. /You must have disability that will result in being unable to work for at least a year.

It sounds like you have already cleared those hurdles. Your question, however, was whether the SSA accepts mental illness as a qualifying condition. The good news is that the SSA recognizes many mental illnesses as disabling. They include depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder, to name a few. If your doctor is already encouraging you, it is probably a good time for you to start the application process.

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