How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits for Depression
Minimum Qualifications for Any Disorder:
Before you can qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits for a specific condition like depression, you’ll need to meet their minimum requirements, which apply to any medical condition.
If all the following statements are true, the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers you to have a qualifying disability:
- You cannot do work to a level called “substantial gainful activity (SGA)” because of your medical condition.
- Your inability to work applies to your past work, or changing to a new kind of job.
- Your condition has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or will be lifelong
Qualifying for Disability Benefits Specifically for Depression:
Depression is the most common mental disorder according to the American Psychological Association. And mental health disorders including depression are among the most common Social Security Disability claims.
But what exactly is depression?
Everyone feels sad sometimes, and it’s not unusual to feel depressed after a traumatic event in your life. Those types of depression are known as short-term and situational.
For your depression to qualify you for Social Security Disability benefits, it needs to meet strict criteria.
First, you need to be experiencing at least five of the following symptoms:
- Depressed mood
- Diminished interest in almost all activities
- Appetite disturbance with change in weight
- Sleep disturbance
- Observable changes or slowing in movement
- Decreased energy
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Difficulty concentrating or thinking
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Social Security says you need to have extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning:
- Processing information
- Interacting with people
- Concentrating, persisting in a task, or maintaining your pace
- Adapting to changes around you or managing your own behavior
Your depression needs to be “serious and persistent,” meaning that you have a medically documented history of the disorder over at least two years, and there is evidence of BOTH:
- “Medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or a highly structured setting(s) that is ongoing and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of your mental disorder”
- AND: “Marginal adjustment, that is, you have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life.”
The Social Security Disability benefits system is complex and difficult to navigate unless you’re working with it every day. That’s what Hanley Disability advocates do.
We’ve helped thousands of people in Indiana win disability benefits.