How Much Does Mental Health Disability Pay?

Upset woman sitting at kitchen table with laptop, dealing with financial stress and pressure because of mortgage debt, worrying or feeling anxious

Damir Khabirov / Getty Images

If you have bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, or another mental health disorder or mental illness that prevents you from working or maintaining employment, you may qualify for federal social security disability pay.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides disability benefits to millions of people every year to help cover medical bills, living expenses, and other financial obligations. The benefits are paid on a monthly basis in an effort to alleviate financial strain. Unfortunately, the disability benefits application process can be painstakingly difficult and many first-time applications are denied.

To be eligible for mental health disability pay from the SSA, your mental health disability must fall under one of the following categories: 

SSA Disability Benefits and Payments 

The SSA offers two programs, both of which provide assistance to people with physical and mental disabilities. Learn more about these programs and how much you can receive. 

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) 

This is available for adults with permanent disabilities, as well as their families. To qualify for mental health disability pay, you must have a mental health impairment that prevents you from working for at least 12 months. You must also have previously worked and paid into the Social Security program for at least five of the last 10 years. 

Allocated monthly payments will be based on your average lifetime earnings over a certain period of years, also known as your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME). If you worked for many years earning a high salary, you would receive more disability pay than someone who worked for less time and had a low salary. As of 2021, the average monthly benefit for disability insurance is $1,153.

After 24 months of SSDI, you may receive Medicare benefits. If you are receiving veterans benefits, this won’t affect your payment amount, but workers’ compensation might.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) 

Benefits are given to both children and adults with disabilities who have low income and limited resources. To qualify as a child, you must have an impairment that has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months. To qualify as an adult, you must have an impairment that prevents you from working on a regular and sustained basis. 

In 2022, the maximum monthly amounts will be:

  • $841 for an eligible individual 
  • $1,261 for an eligible couple (in which both individuals have a disability)
  • $421 for an essential person, also known as a caregiver

The payments are increasing 5.9% from 2021 to account for cost-of-living adjustments. How much you receive depends on many factors, including, but not limited to your countable unearned income and living arrangements,

To qualify, an individual cannot have more than $2,000 in assets, and a married individual cannot have more than $3,000 in assets. These assets do not include certain things, like the individual’s primary home, car, wedding rings, burial savings, etc.

If you qualify for SSI, you are automatically approved for Medicaid benefits. 

Other Mental Health Disability Benefit Programs

If you have a mental health disorder or illness which is disrupting your life and causing you financial stress, you should look into disability benefit programs. Many federal, state, and local initiatives provide assistance and financial support to individuals with mental health disabilities. 

Some of these programs include:

  • The SSA’s Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program, which provides monthly benefits to qualified retired and disabled workers, as well as their dependents and families of insured workers
  • State-specific programs, such as Michigan’s Disability Assistance Program (SDA), which provide cash assistance to eligible adults who are 65 years old or older and have a disability
  • Medicaid Section 1115 Demonstration programs, which provide qualified Medicaid beneficiaries with substance use or mental health services
  • Private disability programs, which assist commercial insurers. These are often included in an employer’s benefits package and are ideal for individuals with partial disabilities. 

There are also many programs available that can help you through the disability benefits application process. Children or adults who are at risk of homelessness and have a severe mental illness, medical impairment, or co-occurring substance use disorder, for instance, may qualify for the SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR). Under this program, case managers work closely with eligible individuals to help them secure SSI and SSDI benefits. 

If you have a mental health disability and are considering applying for disability pay, start by visiting your local Social Security Administration office to speak with a representative. 

What This Means For You

If you or a family member has a mental health disability and meets the requirements for disability pay, you’ll want to fill out the proper application forms, which include a disability benefit application form and a medical release form. When applying, you should work with an attorney who has disability claims experience or a social security claims representative. 

If your application is denied, you can reapply or re-open your claim. An application may be denied for any number of reasons, including insufficient medical evidence, high income, or failure to follow prescribed treatment. If your condition or circumstances have changed, you should definitely return to your application.

Once you receive disability pay you will continue to receive benefits for as long as you're considered disabled, so don’t let the stress of applying stop you from getting the financial support you need.

4 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. United States Social Security Administration. Medical/Professional Relations. Disability Evaluation Under Social Security.

  2. United States Social Security Administration. Monthly Statistical Snapshot, September 2021.

  3. United States Social Security Administration. Understanding Supplemental Security Income SSI General Information - 2021 Edition.

  4. United States Social Security Administration. Spotlight on Resources - 2021 Edition.

By Sarah Sheppard
Sarah Sheppard is a writer, editor, ghostwriter, writing instructor, and advocate for mental health, women's issues, and more.