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Mental Illness and Social Security

Posted on:4/11/2013
Social Security Disability Insurance is the major disability program. SSDI is a federal income program for people who are blind or have a disability, including mental illness.

Unlike Supplemental Security Income, SSDI recipients must have paid into the social security system while being employed, benefit amounts vary according to length of employment and amount paid into the social security system, and there are no resource limitations. People with mental illness who experienced the onset of symptoms early in their adult lives may never have worked and thus would not be eligible for SSDI.


People who have worked a limited amount of time may receive both SSDI and SSI if their SSDI check is under amount of the state's  SSI payment and the individual meets all SSI criteria, including income and resource limitations. After a 2-year waiting period for most people, SSDI recipients are eligible for Medicare, a federal health insurance program for SSDI and social security retirement recipients, which pays for selected hospital and outpatient services, as well as selected medications under an expansion of Medicare that is scheduled for implementation in 2006.


Employment affects people receiving SSDI very differently than those on SSI. SSDI recipients are granted a 9-month trial work period, during which they can receive the full amount of their SSDI check regardless of how much they earn. These trial work months do not have to be consecutive and are considered on a rolling 60-month basis.

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What is Social Security Disability? SSDI SSI
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