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Are mental disorders covered by SSDI benefits?

Occupational diseases are not limited to physical manifestations. There are times when workers can develop a mental illness because of exposure to certain chemicals, a traumatic experience at work or as a result of a workplace accident or injury. Tennesseans who suffer from mental disorders often needs continuous medication and long-term care. This, of course, can be very expensive. Fortunately, Social Security Disability Insurance benefits can cover mental disorders. However, Tennesseans should be aware of how the SSDI benefits work.

According to the Social Security Administration's "blue book," mental disorders are diagnosed under nine categories, which include organic disorders, psychotic disorders, , affective disorders and disorders that cause intellectual disabilities. The other categories are anxiety disorders, somatoform, personality, disorders from substance abuse and developmental disorders. To qualify for the benefits, a disorder should be expected to last continuously for at least a year and must impair an employee's ability to work.

In terms of medical evidence, the family of the applicant or an attorney filing on behalf of the worker should provide reasonable medical information about the mental illness. This includes the history of how the illness developed, psychological tests and their results, records of other medical examinations, and any treatment or hospitalizations that the worker has undergone. If the applicant took intelligence tests, those should be included in the medical evidence as well. When the medical evidence has been completed, the SSA will determine the severity of the mental disorder.

Tennesseans should realize that the process of evaluation can be frustrating and complicated at times. For this reason, other applicants seek an attorney to help them throughout the process. An attorney can also help with eligibility requirements and can file an appeal in the event of a denied claim.

Source: Ssa.gov, "Disability Evaluation Under Social Security," Accessed Dec. 9, 2014

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