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Can you get Social Security disability benefits for depression?

For many Americans, being depressed is much more than just feeling sad. It can make you feel worthless, unloved, and unable to perform daily functions. If you suffer from severe depression, know that you are not alone. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 16.1 million adults suffer from Major Depressive Disorder each year in the U.S.

If your depression is interfering with your ability to work, do not blame yourself. There are other options. You may be able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

Initial qualifications

The first condition of qualifying is you must have worked a job that paid into Social Security. This employment must have lasted long enough, and you must have been employed recently enough to qualify. Assuming you meet those qualifications, you must also meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of disability.

Disability definitions

The SSA only gives benefits for total disability, not partial or short-term disability. That means your disability must be so severe that you cannot work like you worked previously, you also cannot do other jobs because of your disability, and your disability must also be expected to last for at least a year or could lead to your demise.

Depression qualifications

The qualifications you must meet to receive Social Security disability benefits for depression are more specific. The SSA states it must receive medical documentation showing you suffer from five or more of these depression symptoms.

  • Depressed
  • Lack of interest in most activities
  • Severe change in appetite
  • Inability to sleep or sleep too much
  • Lack of energy
  • Feel guilt or apathy
  • Unable to think clearly
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Psychomotor disturbance

These symptoms must also occur with the inability to complete daily tasks, interact socially, and concentrate or keep up a steady pace. There is another way to qualify.

If you experience five of the above characteristics, and you have a history of depression that has been documented for at least two years, you may also qualify. Within this medical history, your treatment for depression must have included therapy or inpatient treatment that is ongoing. This documentation must also indicate you have little ability to adapt to changes in your environment.

If you think you might be eligible for Social Security disability for depression, you can call the SSA or set up an appointment at a local Social Security office. You will want to be as detailed as possible when you fill out the application and make sure to include copies of your medical history. If you feel overwhelmed by the process, you may consider reaching out an attorney that regularly deals with Social Security disability issues. He or she can guide you through the process.

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