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Nearly 1 in 5 American adults lives with a mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. And as of 2020, there were an estimated 14.2 million American adults living with a serious mental illness, defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder that causes severe functional impairment.
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If you have a mental health problem, you may not be able to work. And if that’s the case, can you count on disability insurance to cover your lost income? It might be: Here’s what you need to know.
Mental health issues covered by disability insurance
We often think of disability insurance as a means of protecting our income in the event of an unexpected physical illness, but it also covers mental health issues in some cases. According to the Social Security Administration’s Disability Benefits Center, the following mental health disorders are considered disabling conditions:
- Anxiety disorder
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Asperger syndrome
- bipolar disorder
- Addiction to drugs
- Memory loss
- Mood disorders
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Organic mental disorders
- Panic attacks
- Post traumatic stress disorder
- Somatoform disorders
- Schizoaffective disorder
Many private disability insurance providers also recognize these same illnesses as grounds for a claim. However, other mental health problems may qualify you for disability benefits.
“There really isn’t a set list of mental health issues that are covered by disability insurance,” said Colin Nabity, CEO and co-founder of Breeze, an online provider of disability and critical illness insurance. “Instead, it’s more about whether the problem affects your ability to work and earn a wage. That could be anything from depression, anxiety, mood disorders or panic attacks.”
Not only is it possible to qualify for disability insurance because of a mental health problem, it’s also quite common.
“According to LIMRA, mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are the fifth most common reason for long-term disability insurance claims and the fourth most common reason for short-term disability claims Nabity said. “Disability insurance is very often used to help protect your finances against mental health struggles.”
How to claim disability benefits based on a mental health problem
The qualifications for a mental health disability claim are largely the same as for a physical disability.
“You will probably need to show a medical diagnosis from a professional,” Nabity said. “If you’re dealing with a mental health struggle and it’s affecting your ability to work and it’s been medically diagnosed, it’s likely covered by disability insurance pending other factors.”
Insurance providers recognize that mental health issues can be just as debilitating as an illness or injury, so it’s not harder to make a claim just because the problem isn’t obvious to the naked eye.
“Insureds and carriers are taking the necessary steps to ensure mental health issues are covered under disability insurance,” Nabity said.
How disability insurance protects your income in the event of a mental health problem
Given the prevalence of mental illness in the US, you may want to consider purchasing disability insurance to protect your financial well-being if you are unable to work.
“In the event that you are unable to work due to a qualifying mental health problem, disability insurance replaces a portion of your regular income, usually up to 60%, for a period of time that may be weeks, months , years or even until retirement. age,” said Nabity. “This benefit money can be used for anything from mortgage and credit card payments to baby formula and groceries. So if you have a qualifying mental health problem and are unable to work or earn an income, your disability insurance benefit can be used to pay for things instead of having to go into credit card debt, personal loans, or any retirement nest egg you have. I’ve been building for the future.”
“Disability insurance can provide an excellent financial safety net if injury, illness or mental health issues prevent you from working,” he continued. “Mental health issues are on the rise in America, and most employees are not offered paid leave, so having disability insurance could give you peace of mind that your finances will remain intact if you need time away from work to take care of what’s most important.”
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