Depression is a very powerful mental condition that can greatly disrupt a person’s life. In fact, it can even affect a person’s ability to work, despite using appropriate medications to treat it. If you meet certain requirements, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Anyone considering applying for Social Security disability benefits for depression must understand the qualifying criteria for disability benefits approval and what to expect from the application process.
How Can Depression Become a Disability?
“Depression” is a blanket term to describe a range of mental health conditions including major depression, dysthymia, and persistent depressive disorder. Symptoms can range in severity; some experience symptoms every day for years on end, while others contend with intermittent bouts of depression symptoms. While symptoms vary from person to person, they generally include:
- Feelings of sadness and gloom
- Decreased interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Persistent fatigue and low energy
- Lack of motivation
- Difficulty sleeping
- Low appetite
- Difficulty with concentration and completing tasks
- Feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem
- Suicidal ideation
- Increased agitation and aggression in response to stressors
It’s vital to separate actual depression from the bouts of depression the average person experiences in response to traumatic events or specific situations. For example, a breakup or the death of a family member can cause some of the aforementioned symptoms, but these symptoms pass in time and do not constitute a mental disorder. Actual diagnosed depression is a persistent condition that can negatively impact a person’s life even in a complete absence of acute emotional trauma.
How Depression Can Qualify as a Covered Disability
Depression is the second most cited condition listed on Social Security disability benefits applications. To qualify for Social Security disability benefits for depression, an applicant must display no less than five of the symptoms listed above as well as a functional limitation due to the condition, such as:
- Inability to engage in socially appropriate behaviors.
- Cognitive disruption, or the inability to learn new things and use good judgment when completing tasks.
- Inability to complete tasks without disruption.
- Managing basic life functions such as paying bills, cooking meals, and practicing good hygiene.
Social Security reviews each application to determine whether an applicant’s depression interferes with the applicant’s ability to work and awards disability benefits accordingly. Applicants who only lists depression on their application will need to provide extensive documentation and evidence to secure approval. The Social Security Administration is more likely to award benefits to an applicant with depression as just one claimed condition.
While some applicants with extensive documentation and years-long records of depression symptoms may secure Social Security disability benefits, others with less severe records may qualify for medical-vocational allowances.
Navigating the Social Security disability benefits application process can be incredibly daunting without assistance. Many individuals struggle to secure the records and documentation required for securing approval for benefits. Our attorneys have years of experience handling these applications on behalf of our clients, so contact us today to learn more about how we can help.