1 in 3 on Disability Have Mental Disorder; 42.9% in D.C.

By Ali Meyer | January 27, 2015 | 9:54 AM EST

(CNSNews.com) - One in three, or 35.2 percent, of people getting federal disability insurance benefits have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, according to the latest data from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Washington, D.C., the seat of the federal government, ranked in the top-ten list of states where disabled beneficiaries were diagnosed with mental problems.

In 2013, the latest data from SSA show there were 10,228,364 disabled beneficiaries, up 139,625 from 2012 when there were 10,088,739 disabled beneficiaries.

Disabled beneficiaries have increased 49.7 percent from a decade ago in 2003 when there were 6,830,714 beneficiaries; and the number is up 14.3 percent from the 8,945,376 beneficiaries in 2009, the year President Obama took office.

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The largest "diagnostic group" for disabled beneficiaries was a mental disorder. Of the 10,228,364 disabled people receiving federal disability benefits in December 2013, according to the report, 3,599,417, or 35.2 percent, were diagnosed with a mental disorder.

"Musculoskeletal system and connective tissue” problems accounted for the second largest group of disabled beneficiaries. Of the 10,228,364 disabled people receiving federal disability benefits in December 2013, 2,829,808, or 27.7 percent, had been diagnosed with a musculoskeletal problem.

In Washington, D.C., according to the report, 42.9 percent of disabled beneficiaries as of December 2013 had been diagnosed with a mental disorder. Massachusetts and New Hampshire led the nation in this metric with 49.9 percent of disabled beneficiaries diagnosed with a mental disorder.

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At the bottom of the list were Alabama (28.8% diagnosed with a mental disorder); Georgia (29.1%), South Carolina (29.7%), and Arkansas and Louisiana (30.2% each).

Within the mental disorders diagnostic group, the most common specific diagnosis for disabled beneficiaries was a “mood disorder.” According to the report, as of December 2013, 14 percent of all disabled beneficiaries in the United States had such a disorder.

A mood disorder, otherwise known as an affective disorder, says SSA, is “characterized by a disturbance of mood, accompanied by a full or partial manic or depressive syndrome. Mood refers to a prolonged emotion that colors the whole psychic life; it generally involves either depression or elation.”

To be determined to be suffering a disabling mood disorder, a person must exhibit a combination of factors, including such things as “appetite disturbance with change in weight; or sleep disturbance; or psychomotor agitation or retardation; or decreased energy; or feelings of guilt or worthlessness; or difficulty concentrating or thinking; or thoughts of suicide; or hallucinations, delusions, or paranoid thinking.”

Massachusetts led the nation in this category with 22.7 percent of those with mental disorders also diagnosed with a mood disorder. Washington, D.C., lagged slightly behind the national percentage, with 13.9 percent of its disabled beneficiaries having been diagnosed with a mood disorder.

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The report also examines beneficiaries who have filed for workers’ compensation or public disability benefits. The report finds that the number one diagnosis for those who have filed are because of “musculoskeletal system and connective tissue,” with 59.8% of those who have filed having that diagnosis. The second highest group, or 10.6 percent of those who filed, were diagnosed with a “mood disorder.”

A disabled worker, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA), is a “beneficiary who worked in covered employment long enough to be insured and who had been working recently in covered employment prior to disability onset.”

“Individuals are considered to be disabled only if their physical or mental impairment(s) are of such severity that they are not only unable to do their previous work but cannot--because of their age, education, or work experience--engage in any other kind of substantial gainful activity that exists in the national economy,” says SSA.

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