Government Assistance for the Mentally Ill

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Many people with mental illnesses such as depression and bipolar disorder work at jobs with good salaries and health insurance benefits and do not need assistance from the government. However, some people with severe psychological conditions, including severe depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, may be unable to work or unable to earn enough money to provide for themselves fully. The government offers assistance for the mentally ill who need it. Mentally ill individuals must apply for the government assistance they need and must meet specific criteria in order to qualify.

Social Security Disability Insurance

  • Social Security Disability Insurance provides support for some individuals with psychological disorders that prevent them from working. To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance for mental illness, people must be unable to work for at least 12 months due to their psychological conditions. They must also have worked a certain number of quarters in the past, depending on their ages at the time they become disabled. The amount they will receive each month depends on how much they paid in Social Security taxes in the past while they were working. As of 2014, mentally ill people can earn up to $1,070 a month in substantial gainful activity and still receive disability assistance.

Evidence of Illness

  • Claimants must provide documentation from acceptable medical sources, including licensed physicians, licensed psychologists, treating sources and health facilities -- hospitals and clinics. Medical reports should include a medical history, clinical findings, lab results, diagnosis, prescribed treatment, assessment of impairment and ability to work.

Supplemental Security Income

  • Supplemental Security Income provides support for some mentally ill people who do not qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance because they did not work enough before becoming disabled. To qualify for Supplemental Security Income for mental illness, people must be unable to work for at least 12 months due to their psychological conditions. They also must have low incomes and limited resources.

Medicaid

  • Medicaid, a state administered program funded by both state and federal funds, provides health insurance for many low income people including mentally ill people with psychological conditions that keep them from working. Medicaid covers a variety of medical services in most states, including consultations with psychiatrists, counseling, psychological testing, inpatient mental health care and psychotropic medications. In some states, recipients of Supplemental Security Income automatically receive Medicaid. Other people must apply for Medicaid at their local social assitance offices.

Medicare

  • Medicare provides health insurance for mentally ill people who receive Social Security disability benefits, either Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income, after they have qualified for disability benefits for two full years. Like Medicaid, Medicare covers a variety of medical services including mental health treatment and prescription medications used to treat psychological disorders. People can receive both Medicare and Medicaid if they meet the eligibility rules for both, in which case Medicaid often covers the fees not covered by Medicare.

Vocational Rehabilitation Services

  • All states provide vocational rehabilitation services to people with mental illnesses who want to work but need special services such as job training, help finding jobs or job coaching, which provides extra support and other services to people on the job. The name of the agency that provides vocational rehabilitation varies from state to state.

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