mentalThere are many myths surrounding the process of applying for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). One of the most commonly held is that benefits are rarely if ever awarded to people who suffer from mental illness. In fact, any well-established Chicago Illinois disability attorney would tell you that it is quite possible to receive a ruling from the SSA that states that you can no longer work and are entitled to compensation on the basis of your mental illness.

As you speak with your attorney, you will no doubt hear about the “Blue Book,” the SSA’s official listing of impairments. This book lists all of the physical and mental conditions that the SSA deems to be inherently disabling, thus preventing you from what is called substantial gainful activity. As you gather the evidence to support your case, one of the most crucial pieces will be documentation from all of the medical professionals who have knowledge of and have treated your mental illness. This evidence will be used to determine if you meet the requirements of Listing 12.00 for mental illness.

You are probably wondering what specific conditions the SSA recognizes under Listing 12.00. They include:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Autistic disorders
  • Mental retardation
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Substance abuse disorders.


Each of these conditions is described in detail in order to help the SSA to make an objective determination of your eligibility for ongoing benefits.

What if your mental illness does not meet the SSA’s requirements for severity under Listing 12.00 Perhaps your specific mental condition is not even included in Listing 12.00? Even then, you might still be eligible for disability benefits. In order to convince the SSA of this fact, you and your lawyer will need to prove that your condition is preventing you from working and will continue to do so for at least the next year. In addition, if your mental residual functional capacity indicates that you have social, intellectual or functional deficits, you might receive what is known as a medical-vocational allowance.

Because numerous individual factors will combine to determine whether this can happen in your case, it is vital that you partner with physicians, psychiatrists and legal professionals who understand how your administrative law judge determines your eligibility and will work with you to optimize your chances of success.