SSA: 35.5% of those who receive SSD have mental disorder

As mental illness continues to move out of the shadows, more people in Texas and elsewhere are receiving Social Security disability benefits due to a mental condition. The Social Security Administration reports that mental disorder is one of the fastest-growing categories of disability for which the program gives out benefits.

According to the report, which is based on data through December 2012, exactly 10,088,739 people were receiving SSD benefits due to mental disability. That made up 35.5 percent of all recipients at that time, and was nearly double the number of beneficiaries for mental illness in 1995. It is the single largest group of disabilities for which the SSA grants benefits, the report says.

These recipients are living with a range of disorders, from schizophrenia to depression, that prevent them from working regularly to support themselves.

There is quite a range of how common mental disorders are among SSD recipients, when you look state by state. Massachusetts has the highest percentage, with 50.1 percent of beneficiaries being approved for a “mental disorder.” Meanwhile, in Alabama, just 29.2 percent of recipients have been diagnosed with a mental disorder.

What explains this disparity? It is pretty unlikely that mental illness is significantly more common in one state than another. It is possible that different standards of what qualifies as a “disability” are being applied in different parts of the country, based on differing interpretations of the federal guidelines.

For people in Texas, the process of getting SSD benefits can be challenging. Hiring an attorney can help avoid some of the roadblocks and setbacks.

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