Can You Get Social Security Disability Benefits for Depression?

Social Security Disability Benefits for Depression

It’s normal for people to feel down or blue from time to time, especially during particularly stressful life events, but clinical depression goes beyond occasional sensations of sadness as it can infer fear with daily living.

Depression is a mood disorder that’s associated with chronic feelings of misery as well as a loss of interest in once-pleasurable things. There are several types of depression, but the most serious is major depressive disorder, or clinical depression, which affects how a person thinks, behaves and feels. This can lead to myriad mental, physical and emotional complications. This mental illness is not something you can just snap out of or stop because it often requires long-term treatment and monitoring. If you suffer from depression it may be beneficial to know if you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. 



Symptoms of depression include:

  • Irritability
  • Angry outbursts
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating patterns
  • Lack of energy and feelings of exhaustion
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Feeling worthless or guilt
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Unexplained physical issues like back or headaches

Major depressive disorder can be caused by hormones, traumatic life events, brain chemistry or inherited traits. In order for someone to be diagnosed, these symptoms must be persistent for at least two weeks or more, and, according to WebMD, between 20 and 25 percent of adults may suffer an episode of clinical depression at some point during their life.

Does Social Security Disability Apply to People With Depression?

In order to receive Social Security disability benefits for depression, you need to meet specific qualifications for Social Security disability benefits set forth by the Social Security Association in its Blue Book and provide enough evidence to prove that your clinical depression is so severe you are unable to sustain a full-time job and gainful employment.

It’s sometimes more challenging for people with mental illnesses to prove that they have the condition and that it’s serious enough to require Social Security disability. Mental disorders are often considered “invisible conditions” because they don’t always display outward physical symptoms that an SSA decision maker can see in order to approve a Social Security disability benefits claim.

To be considered for Social Security disability benefits, your depression must last for one year or more and prohibit you from working a job on a regular and consistent basis. You’ll need to provide medical evidence to support this claim, but you may also not to explain that with depression, you have good and bad days, so even if your treatment records say you’re doing better, worsened symptoms or relapse can recur.

Depression is covered in the SSA Blue Book under listing 12.04, Affective Disorders. To qualify for Social Security disability, you need to be at least four of the following symptoms:

  • Lack of interest in most activities
  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Decreased energy levels
  • Oversleeping or insomnia
  • Issues concentrating or thinking
  • Feeling worthless or guilt
  • Lack of physical movement and activity
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Paranoia, hallucinations or delusions

Additionally, your symptoms must be so severe you have issues with:

  • Functioning socially
  • Focusing
  • Activities of daily living
  • Extended of worsening symptoms

It’s also imperative to provide sufficient medical evidence of your depression, which can include doctor’s notes, lab results, medical records, appointment dates and treatment you’re receiving. It can also be helpful to have your primary doctor and psychologist provide statements speaking to the severity of your major depressive disorder. Professional medical opinions of those who are treating you and are familiar with your condition may bolster your claim.

Consider Professional Assistance

Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a challenging and time-consuming process, so it might be helpful to contact an advocate or attorney. A professional who specializes in Social Security disability will understand the intricacies of these cases, and they can offer their opinion on how you should proceed.

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