Depression and Disability
Clinical depression is sometimes considered a disability under the ADA, though not all people living with this condition are eligible for this protection. Someone who suffers from serious depression that significantly impacts his or her day-to-day functioning is more likely to qualify for consideration as having a disability.
It may be difficult to make a claim for disability benefits on the basis of anxiety or depression, as the evidence used to support a diagnosis is based on subjective criteria. If you are filing for disability benefits based on an anxiety-related condition, you may prove your case with the help of your medical records, letters and reports from your doctors, and your own testimony. Records from doctors, therapists, psychiatrists, and the like may all be useful when supporting your claim.
The Depression Disability Process
While you will need to meet strict requirements in order to obtain a full disability award based on your diagnosis of depression, working closely with your health care providers and with your Social Security disability lawyer or advocate to gather and submit the proper documentation can help to make sure your depression disability claim has as best of a shot at success as possible. If your claim is denied, strongly consider getting a copy of your claims file and seeking the advice of an attorney who specializes in Depression and Anxiety SSDI disability claims.
If you have been diagnosed with depression, and expect that you cannot work for at least one year due to your depression, you may file a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. If your depression is so bad, even when treated with antidepressant medications, that you cannot do any kind of job, you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits.
If you have been struggling with depression for one year or longer and cannot work, you may be eligible to get financial help from the government. You may stay on depression disability for as long as your depression keeps you from working.
Depression, Disability and Social Security
If depression is the only disability you listed on your disability application, getting on disability is going to be a longshot, unless you have a serious, disabling case of depression that qualifies you for disability on a list of disorders. To qualify for disability benefits for depression, your depression must be severe enough to meet the requirements that Social Security (SSA) has outlined in Social Security’s list of impairments for depression (List 12.04), or it must interfere with your ability to function so much that the SSA agrees that there is no work that you can do.
Depression may also be claimed as a disability under the SSA, but only if you meet certain criteria. The Commons includes a set of symptoms and list of functional problems that you need to have in order to qualify for either Social Security disability benefits or SSI disability benefits based on depression.
If you do not meet the requirements of Social Security’s definition of severe depression, described above, SSA next looks at your symptoms of depression and how much they interfere with your ability to perform normal activities of daily living, as well as whether any type of work is expected from you. The Social Security Administration will also consult the Blue Book, which lists severe illnesses and is used by the SSA to determine the validity around SSDI claims related to depression or anxiety, without evaluating your employment history.
For the Social Security Administration to approve a depression or anxiety claim when you do not have a condition that meets the listings, your limitations, as well as your work history and education, need to indicate you cannot do the SGA for any of the occupations in which you have worked in the past, as well as any of your new occupations.
Social Security provides an alternative method of meeting the list of limitations for people who cannot demonstrate they have current functional limitations listed above because they lived in a highly structured or protected environment or underwent intensive treatment.
You may be eligible to receive benefits for disabilities such as depression either through SSDI or SSI, but only through SSI if you are ineligible for SSDI because you have not paid into Social Security, you do not have sufficient work credits (more about those below), and/or you earn less than a specified amount of money. If you experience depressive episodes when living with bipolar disorder, you also may be eligible for certain benefits.
Depression and Other Mental Conditions
You may qualify for a serious depressive episode, bipolar disorder, an anxiety disorder, or another mental health condition that interferes with your ability to hold down a job. If you have depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or another mental health condition, you are protected against discrimination and harassment in the workplace due to your condition, have workplace confidentiality rights, and you may have the legal right to obtain reasonable accommodations that help you function and maintain your employment.
If you do not have a treating psychiatric or other mental health professional, and your disability claim is based on anxiety or depression, you might want to ask the treating physician to refer you to get a psychological evaluation. If you are not being treated by health care professionals for a mental health condition, you can ask your primary care physician to make a referral to a social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist.
Providing medical documentation showing you fit the list may be difficult, but you may use statements from the psychologist, statements from previous supervisors or coworkers, family members, social workers, or anyone else who can talk about how symptoms of depression affected your ability to work.
Depression Disability Conclusion
You should have a medically documented history of depression lasting at least two years; and Your medical records should show that your depression has limited your ability to work (although there may be some improvement in your ability to work because of counseling or medication); and Your medical records should show that you were subjected to repeated, prolonged periods when your symptoms have worsened.
You can receive SSDI for severe depression and anxiety as long as you are able to show your symptoms are truly disabling. To learn how Social Security makes these decisions, read more about getting disability benefits based on the vocational-medical impairment rating for a mental health condition, or check out our article about how mild depression can influence a disability determination. Subjects with a depressive and/or anxiety disability are not losing physically related function, and they should have a chance of recovery.