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Disability Lawyer > Blog > Social Security Disability > Does the SSDI Program Distinguish Between Physical and Mental Health Impairments?

Does the SSDI Program Distinguish Between Physical and Mental Health Impairments?


When you are struggling to work due to a disabling medical condition, you should be considering your eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, which are administered by the Social Security Agency (SSA). As you might already know, a person can be eligible for SSDI benefits when they have a qualifying medical condition and when they have a sufficient work record for SSDI payments. While certain physical health conditions might seem like they obviously qualify as a disability according to the SSA, many people with disabling mental health conditions erroneously assume that they are not eligible for SSDI benefits, or they assume that the SSA makes it more difficult for people with mental health conditions to receive SSDI payments.

Although the SSA distinguishes among different types of impairments — including physical and mental impairments — for purposes of SSDI eligibility, it is important to be clear that it does not treat physical and mental health impairments differently. Our national SSDI lawyers can explain in more detail.

Definition of a Disability Does Not Distinguish Between Physical and Mental Impairments 

When the SSA is reviewing applications for SSDI benefits to determine whether a person has a disability that qualifies them for SSDI payments, there is no distinction between physical and mental impairments in the definition of a disability that the SSA uses. The SSA reviews an applicant’s medical records to determine whether or not the applicant meets the following requirement:

“To meet our definition of a disability, you must not be able to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of a medically determinable physical or mental disability(ies) that is either expected to result in death [or] has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.”

Blue Book and Different Types of Impairments 

The Blue Book provides an extensive definition of different types of impairments and how they can allow an SSDI applicant to meet the requirements for a disability used by the SSA. There are a total of 14 different sections for particular types of impairments. Of those 14 sections, only one section is dedicated to mental disorders (Section 12.00), while the others include criteria for evaluating various forms of physical disorders, from musculoskeletal disorders to neurological disorders to cancer and immune system disorders.

Just because there is only one section for mental disorders, however, you should not make any inferences about distinctions between physical and mental impairments in terms of qualifying for SSDI benefits. Both physical and mental impairments can qualify a person for payments, and the definition provided above is used regardless of whether you are experiencing a disabling condition due to a physical or mental condition.

Contact Our National Disability Benefits Attorneys Today 

Are you currently dealing with a health impairment that is preventing you from working, such that you want to find out more about qualifying for SSDI benefits? An experienced national SSDI benefits lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Barszcz can talk with you today about your circumstances. We can assess your condition and help you to understand whether or not you are likely to qualify for disability benefits through the SSA, and we can help you to obtain the evidence you will need in order to have your application approved. Applying for SSDI benefits can be complicated, and we are here to assist you at every stage of the process. Contact us today for more information.






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