Can you get disability for depression [ in-depth guide ]

Can you get disability for depression
Can you get disability for depression:

We answer can you get disability for depression and also how hard is it to get disability for depression. The requirements for getting benefits for depression as a disability among other topics.

Can you get disability for depression:

Does depression count as disability, Yes.

To claim disability for depression, the patients are either required to meet a set of criteria (available on the Social Security website) or they can receive a medical-vocational allowance based on the severity of their depression and other factors such as their age, occupation and level of education.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines depression as a psychiatric disability as this disorder has been known to interfere with daily activities, including the ability to work.

Sometimes depression too can be so severe that you are unable to go to work however, not every person with depression will experience that not everybody qualifies for disability benefits for depression under the ADA.

Here are some tips for people with depression who need financial assistance to prevent them from losing their financial freedom but first, let's briefly discuss what is depression and how it can be disabling:

How Depression Can Be Disabling:

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and about 320 million people are living with the condition according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

A person with depression feels sad or empty for a long time. They may lack pleasure or interest in things they usually enjoy. Depression can also interfere with daily life and work and contribute to family problems.

When people feel depressed they are often unable to take care of themselves and those around them. Depression can cause people to withdraw from social situations and restrict their movements. These factors can lead to feelings of guilt or hopelessness taking a person into a dark and lonely place.

How can I apply for disability:

A disability benefit for depression may be available to you if you meet the criteria above. The sooner you apply the better as receiving SSDI and SSI takes several months so directly go to your local Social Security office to apply asap.

Alternatively, you can hire a lawyer to assist with preparing and submitting your application. You should also keep in mind that part of your benefits will go to your legal representative as compensation. If you apply for disability benefits, you will receive a decision within half a year. The date of your original application will be used for retroactive pay.

SSA denies many disability benefits applications and if that is the case with you then you can file a court appeal. To get a hearing you could end up waiting for up to a year so it may be a good idea to hire an attorney at this point to improve your winning chances.

Length and levels of Depression:

To receive benefits there must be at least one year of depression or bipolar disease and the condition must be so severe that you would be unable to function at work regularly and consistently. There is no requirement that you be depressed all the time but your depressive symptoms must occur frequently enough so that you are unable to work.

A medical record from a particular visit will often state that you have improved when you are "feeling better." These records may be used by the Social Security Administration to deny you disability benefits. 

If you have such notes in your medical records, you can describe how often you experience good days with your disorder and how often you encounter bad days at a hearing before an administrative law judge which is during an appeal case for disability hearing that happens after your first disability case is rejected.

The Importance of Getting Treatment for Depression:

In reviewing your medical records, the SSA will determine if you have been prescribed medication for depression or bipolar disorder as well as whether the medication is effective in managing your symptoms. Your condition might be considered mild by the SSA if you have never received medication.

SSA might find you in "noncompliance" if you choose not to get treatment or to follow your physician's treatment recommendations. You can be denied disability benefits if you do not follow your physician's advice. Hence it is critical to get treatment for depression as it's necessary for record basis and for receiving benefits for depression.

Note: The only good reason not to follow a doctor's recommendation is if you cannot afford to pay for therapy sessions. 

Qualifying depression as disability
Qualifying depression as disability:

Qualifying depression as a disability:

Mental health conditions such as clinical depression are common in the United States. In order to be diagnosed with depression you need to experience at least two weeks of these symptoms on most days: 

  • Feelings of sadness
  • Lack of hope and emptiness
  • Stress and irritability
  • Changing appetites
  • Suddenly gaining or losing weight
  • You feel guilty and worthless
  • Anxiety or pain that isn't explained
  • Sleeping too much or insomnia
  • Fatigue that is excessive
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Problems with memory
  • Suicidal behaviour or thoughts.

Qualifying Outside of the Depression Listing for disability:

In the event that you aren't able to demonstrate the functional limitations above because you live in a highly structured or protected environment or undergo intense therapy, you may still qualify according to a second set of functional criteria. Having a mental disorder that has been medically documented as serious and persistent over 2 years and receiving treatment, therapy, or psychosocial support to diminish the symptoms of the disorder can qualify you for this. It is also important that you prove you have the minimum skills to adapt to new demands or to changes in your environment.

When you're depressed, even with treatment, you may have trouble working. Therefore, it explains why mental health disorders remain the leading cause of disability among people according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) and can make you eligible for financial assistance in one form or the other.

How hard is it to get disability for depression:

Almost two out of three depression applicants are denied benefits at first and most people who file a written appeal called "reconsideration" are also rejected. Third-level appeals for disability before an administrative law judge tend to be successful with over 60% of cases that have been denied earlier being overturned.


Depression is an accepted disability that affects millions of Americans every year with some estimates suggesting that one in six adults are experiencing a depressive disorder in any given year and up to 75% will experience an episode during some time before adulthood.

You can claim benefits if you're suffering from severe depression and anxiety so you can maintain your standard of living.

However the bar is high for meeting that criteria so it's best to keep your medical records in order and it's advised to speak to a lawyer who works on a percentage basis (no win no fee basis) as they can take away a lot of the anxiety and paper work of your hands during an already depressing period.

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