Does Social Security Pay Disability Benefits for Mental Health Issues?

If depression makes it impossible to work, you’ve got enough to deal with. Along with symptoms like low energy and feeling hopeless, you’re also worried about how you’re going to pay your bills and get the mental health treatment you need.

If you’re experiencing depression along with another mental or physical impairment, this compounds your symptoms and your stress.

The good news is that Social Security recognizes depression as an impairment that can qualify for financial assistance under its listing of mental health disorders.

The trouble is that filling out the application for Social Security Disability benefits is a daunting task, as is gathering the medical records to support your application. None of it is easy, and Social Security denies most claims.

Depression adds difficulty because it’s so hard to get other people to understand what you’re experiencing.
At Hanley Disability, our disability advocates can help you determine if your depression qualifies for benefits under Social Security rules. We can help you prepare your application correctly and gather all the evidence to go with it.

But more than that, we’re here to support you during a difficult time. We listen, understand your situation and know how important it is to get the benefits you deserve—so you can get to better times.

We handle denial appeals, too.

Let us help make a difference in your life.

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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.

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How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits for Depression

Social Security also views vision loss in terms of severity, with separate rules for impaired vision and blindness.
The SSA won’t just take your word for it that you suffer from depression. You’ll need to support your claim with evidence, including:

  • Medical records
  • Treating physician’s testimony
  • History of medication failure
  • Recent test results
  • Testimonials from coworkers, family or friends

Gathering this documentation can be a lot of legwork. An experienced disability advocate will take this burden off your shoulders.

At Hanley Disability, we support you every step of the way.

We’re proud to help our neighbors in Indiana—people just like you—win the benefits they need to feel better, reclaim their lives and keep going forward.

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How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits for Depression

Loss of speech qualifies for disability under Social Security’s impairment listing for “Special Senses and Speech,” which says the person applying for disability benefits must not have the ability to produce speech, including with the use of mechanical or electronic devices that improve voice or articulation.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) recognizes a variety of speech disorders, including apraxia (a motor speech disorder that makes it hard to speak), dysarthria (caused by muscle weakness), stuttering, and “losing” your voice, temporarily or long-term.

Even if your condition falls short of meeting Social Security’s normal standard for that impairment, you might still qualify for benefits if your particular limitation has made working impossible, you can’t switch to a different line of work and you won’t be able to work for at least a year.

At Hanley Disability, our disability advocates have made it our mission to help people navigate the Social Security system and get the benefit dollars they deserve.

Let us help you gain support for a more secure life.


Get Help with Your Disability Application

You can get Hanley Disability to help you win disability benefits without paying any fee up front. You only pay when you win benefits, and even then your fee comes out of back benefits, not your future disability checks.

Being too sick to work is likely one of the most stressful times in your life. Don’t navigate the government’s complex Social Security Disability program on your own.

Social Security Disability is all we do. Give us a call.

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