Prior to the Mental Health Parity Act of 2008, insurance companies and the government did not regard mental illnesses like anxiety and depression as equal to physical conditions, like cancer or paralysis, to determine eligibility for disability benefits. Now, many companies offer employees temporary disability benefits or medical leave for health concerns that prevent an individual from working, including an onset of major depression or debilitating anxiety. Individuals can apply to the Social Security Administration to continue these benefits beyond what employers or insurance companies offer. Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a lengthy process.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Application forms (online)
- Disability report forms (online)
- Authorisation forms (printable)
- Medical documentation
- Social Security card
- Most recent W-2 forms
- Insurance claim history
- Military discharge papers (if applicable)
- Bank routing and account numbers (optional)
- Social Security Statement (optional)
Collect and organise supporting documents:
Medical records (doctor visits, prescription information, hospital bills, test results)
Proof of current and prior-year income (W-2 form, job history)
Insurance claims pertaining to anxiety/depression treatment
Personal information (Social Security cards, Social Security Statement, contact information)
Military discharge records, including dates of active duty service, if applicable
Fill out the online application form. If application is approved and you desire direct deposit payments, include bank routing and account numbers.
Fill out online Social Security Disability Report. Employer information, work history, and medical records are submitted in this part of the application.
Fill out and sign the Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration form. This form must be completed and signed by hand and submitted by mail or in person at a Social Security office.
Tips and warnings
- The Social Security Statement is helpful but not necessary to apply for benefits. It is a record of Social Security tax payments made over the course of your work history, and can help determine whether you are eligible to receive benefits and how much financial support you'll get.
- If you encounter problems with the application, call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213. The application can also be completed entirely over the phone at that number.
- Federal disability benefits through the Social Security Administration are notoriously difficult to obtain. Even though an individual may meet the federal definition of "disabled," the process of applying for and receiving benefits requires extensive documentation and regular meetings or calls with Social Security officials. Many applications are rejected at first, requiring reapplication and appeals. Altogether the process can take more than a year, and there is no guarantee benefits will be retroactive. An individual must be absolutely certain long-term federal disability is the only option before undertaking this process.
- Before applying for benefits, check the Social Security Administration's descriptions of anxiety and depression to make sure your condition(s) qualify.
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