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'Mental disorder' is leading diagnosis for SSD beneficiaries

Mental illness has traditionally been widely misunderstood and stigmatized here in America and around the world. Thankfully, public understanding and awareness of mental illness is growing; and this is leading to a number of positive changes.

First of all, more people now realize and accept that mental illness is a disease and not simply a moral defect. This has made it easier for individuals suffering from mental illness to seek the treatment they need and to let go of shame and embarrassment. Second, more Americans are able to take advantage of social security disability benefits related to their mental illness; which includes mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.

Between 1995 and 2012, the number of disabled beneficiaries participating in the Social Security Disability Insurance Program nearly doubled. As of the end of 2012, approximately 10.09 million individuals were receiving federal disability benefits. This is according to an annual statistical report about the program.

When beneficiaries are sorted by diagnosis, results show that the leading diagnostic group is “mental disorder,” which applies to approximately 35.5 percent of disabled beneficiaries. Mental disorders make up the largest diagnostic group of disabled beneficiaries.

The fact that more than one-third of beneficiaries have been diagnosed with a mental disorder suggests that mental illness is now better understood than it has been in the past. As a point of reference, the next largest diagnostic group is “musculoskeletal system and connective tissue” problems, which account for just over 27 percent of disabled beneficiaries.

If you suffer from a mental disorder (including mood disorders like major depression and bipolar disorders), your condition might be making it impossible to continue working. As such, you may be eligible for disability benefits. In order to understand your rights and options, you may wish to seek the help of an experienced Social Security Disability attorney.

Source: CNS News, "35.5% of Disability Beneficiaries Have ‘Mental Disorder’; 43.2% in D.C.," Ali Meyer, Jan. 28, 2014

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