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Does a mental illness qualify you for disability benefits?

It’s commonly accepted physical disabilities can be a barrier to employment. However, mental illness as an obstacle is oftentimes overlooked. If you suffer from a mental illness, your condition could make it hard for you to find the energy to go to work. You may even think holding a steady job is impossible at this trying time in your life. When your mental illness hinders you from succeeding in a job, you might feel stuck and hopeless. Even if you’re not working, you still have bills to pay.

If that’s the case, you could potentially receive assistance through either Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These two government programs provide people with insurance and a monthly income. According to the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, at least 160,251 Mississippians utilize these benefits. So, you’re far from alone in your struggles.

What are the differences between SSDI and SSI?

If your mental illness impairs your ability to work and puts you in a precarious financial situation, you may be eligible for either SSDI or SSI disability benefits. First, you need to know how the two programs differ.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) outlines the differences between the two disability benefits provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

To qualify for SSDI, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Your mental illness has prevented you from working for the last twelve months.
  • Your work history shows you working at least five of the ten past years, during which you’ve paid Social Security taxes.

Meanwhile, if you’re an adult looking to receive SSI assistance, you need to adhere to these conditions:

  • Your mental illness affects your ability to hold down a steady job.
  • You have $2,000 or less in assets.

These guidelines can help you determine your eligibility for SSI or SSDI disability benefits. Additional information could help definitively measure if you meet all the qualifications. Remember that your mental illness is a valid claim and reason to apply for SSI or SSDI benefits. It’s comforting to know these programs exist when tough times arise, but it’s important to note your application could get denied. However, consulting with an attorney may help every part of the application process go more smoothly.

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