It sounds terrible, but you almost wish you had a physical injury. When you see a worker with a broken arm or walking with a cane, you sympathize and talk with him about how he’s feeling. It seems much more socially-acceptable—more normal—than a mental illness. Nobody is sympathetic, you can’t talk about it most of the time, and no one even knows how much you are suffering until the day you just can’t work anymore.

Getting Social Security Disability Benefits After a Psychotic Break

If you have suffered a mental or emotional breakdown, you may be able to get disability benefits while you are unable to work. In order to qualify, you must be able to show the Social Security Administration (SSA) that your condition will prevent you from working for at least one year.

This does not mean that you will not be able to work at all, but that you cannot work for a sustained period of time that would allow you to earn a living wage. For example, here are a few events that could affect your ability to work after a mental breakdown:

  • Crisis episodes. While you may be able to manage your condition fairly well on a daily basis, victims of mental illness will often suffer a sudden, temporary increase in their symptoms that can prevent them from doing simple work tasks that they do not normally have difficulty with, such as driving to work or sitting still at their desks.
  • Increased treatment. After a mental health event, patients may supplement their normal treatment with additional medications, doctor’s visits, or medical testing. Your disability application should include copies of medical records that show changes in your treatment following a psychological episodes, and how these changes prevent you from working.
  • Position or schedule changes. Employees may attempt to work sporadically to keep their jobs, but are still unable to earn their full wages over a sustained period of time. If your employer offers alternate work hours or shortened shifts, explain how this is not a feasible solution. For example, a waitress at Sona Thirteen is unable to work from home, and may not be able to take morning shifts because her child needs her at home.

If you are coping with a mental illness, we can help you get the assistance you need. Post a comment on this page to tell us your story, or click the contact link at the top of this page to contact us privately.

Manfred Ricciardelli
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Morristown Workers' Compensation Lawyer
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