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Focus on Mental Health in October

Mental health is an important topic any time of the year, but it takes center stage in October. Congress established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW); the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness and Recovery and Understanding takes place Oct. 7, National Depression Screening Day is Oct. 9, and World Mental Health Day is Oct. 10.

Millions of Americans live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder. One in four adults experiences a mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Mental illness is a leading cause of disability worldwide, and the United States is no exception. Approximately 90 percent of people with psychiatric disabilities are unemployed, according to the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. Mental illness accounts for about one-fifth of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims each year.

Because mental illnesses tend to have an early onset, they dominate the claims submitted by individuals under age 30. Click on the condition to see how the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines disability benefits for claims based on bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.

SSDI benefits include a monthly income and Medicare eligibility. This helps individuals with mental illness who cannot continue working maintain stability and access to treatment. However, most people who apply for SSDI are denied benefits at the application level. The SSA estimates claimants will wait more than a year―415 days―for a hearing. See Allsup's state-by-state disability backlog ranking here.

Having expert SSDI representation can help individuals get approved sooner at the initial and appeal levels. For more information on SSDI eligibility and representation, call the Allsup Disability Evaluation Center at (888) 841-2126 or fill out the online form at Expert.Allsup.com.

To read personal stories from individuals with mental illness who have obtained their SSDI benefits, click here.