Fact Checked

Why is It So Difficult to Get Disability Benefits For Depression?

Is Depression A Disability

Is Depression A Disability - (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

  • Depression is a prevalent mental condition that can often have severe and impairing symptoms.
  • Some of the common debilitating symptoms of depression include tiredness, lack of interest in daily activities, poor sleep and appetite, and poor concentration.
  • Severe symptoms can affect the patient’s employability and can lead to unemployment.
  • Various schemes offer disability benefits for people unemployed due to depression. But the process can be long and demands concrete evidence to prove the severity of depression.
  • With supporting medical records and tenacity, you can qualify for these benefits that can make your recovery journey slightly smoother.


Depression is a debilitating condition that often impacts the sufferer’s ability and will to work. Millions of people around the globe are affected by depression. They have to deal with fatigue, poor concentration, and memory loss that accompanies it. Because of these symptoms, many individuals drop out of work or are unable to sustain a job.

Based on these challenging symptoms of depression, one may feel that every patient deserves disability benefits. However, there are laws in place that may act as a hurdle when you apply for financial support. Is depression a disability? It is something the authorities will try to determine based on set parameters. Not every individual suffering from depression qualifies for disability benefits.

If you are suffering from an emotional disability, here is a guide on what to expect if you apply for disability benefits. This information can help you surpass the hurdles while trying to prove that depression is a disability in your case.

Does Depression Have Any Disabling Symptoms?

Depression Have Any Disabling Symptoms
Depression is often accompanied by difficult symptoms that range from low energy to suicidal thoughts. Many of these symptoms can be disabling. However, to qualify for social security benefits for depression, a clinical diagnosis is not enough. You need to prove that you have been suffering from severe symptoms of depression for over a year, which is preventing you from working. This will be a key factor in terms of identifying – is depression a disability in your case.

Since severity is subjective, it is ideal to visit your doctor frequently, to have medical reports to back your case. If your psychologist reports that your symptoms are severe enough to qualify as an emotional disability that hampers your ability to work, your chances of receiving benefits will improve.

To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income Disability benefits, you need to be suffering from 5 or more of the following symptoms:

  • Disinterest in daily activities
  • Depressed mood
  • Poor sleep
  • Decreased appetite or overeating
  • Poor concentration
  • Disturbed or irregular sleep
  • Feeling worthless
  • Slowed physical or emotional responses
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you are suffering from these symptoms and wondering how to get a disability for depression, you can apply for SSDI or SSI. You will need to submit medical records that prove that you have been suffering from these symptoms for more than 12 months.

Is Depression Considered a Disability?

Is depression a disability – yes, as long as you can prove that it affects your capacity to work. Because of symptoms like fatigue, disinterest in activities, and poor concentration, depression can lead to absenteeism or poor work performance. In severe cases, the patient may have to quit work for several months or years.

According to studies[1], depression is a prevalent reason for unemployment as companies cannot bear the cost of absenteeism or slow work. When depression takes away your ability to perform work-related tasks, it can lead to job loss.

If all the tips on how to prevent depression fail, and even with treatment, your symptoms are too severe for employment, depression is a disability in your case. Basic work requirements like adapting to a new work environment, communicating with coworkers, or performing tasks that demand concentration might be a challenge for you. Therefore, you may qualify to get disability benefits for depression in the United States.

However, the road to getting disability benefits might be a bumpy one. You will need to collect substantial medical evidence to prove your emotional disability. Having detailed reports from your doctor and a seasoned lawyer on board will make your task easier.

Does One Get Social Security Disability Benefits for Depression?

Social Security Disability
In the United States, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides two benefit programs for those dealing with an emotional disability caused by depression. These programs are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

To qualify for these benefits, the SSA first needs evidence to determine – is depression a disability in your case. You can file your application at your nearest SSA office or take the help of an attorney for the same. Based on your application, you may qualify for benefits under these programs as per the given criteria.

How To Get Disability for Depression Through SSDI

  • Prove that you haven’t been able to work for the past 12 months because of depression.
  • You must have paid social security via paycheck deductions for the past five out of ten years.

How To Get Disability for Depression Through SSI

  • You should be able to prove your inability to work due to depression, supported by medical reports.
  • Provide evidence for low income and assets worth less than 2000 USD. Under assets, exclude your car, house, wedding rings, and burial funds.
  • In the case of being married, provide proof that your spouse has a low income too. Additionally, both of you should not have combined assets worth more than 3000 USD.
Recent studies[2] reveal that depression is one of the major causes of unemployment. And only a small percentage of patients are able to rejoin work even after a few years. So, if you are among those who are struggling with unemployment due to depression, these schemes may help you.

Why Is the Procedure to Get Disability Benefits for Depression So Difficult?

Getting disability benefits for depression can be difficult because determining is depression a disability is a subjective evaluation. To convince the SSA that you are incapacitated due to depression, you need to present solid evidence. It could include a convincing personal narrative, supporting medical evidence from your doctor, and records of recommended treatments.

You will need to convince the SSA that you are following all the recommendations on how to prevent depression and are treating your condition as per medical advice. Moreover, you must be able to prove that your symptoms are so severe that they prevent you from gaining employment. Frequent visits to your doctor or psychologist, recorded in health history can help you on this front.

Moreover, the SSA will also try to determine your residual functional capacity despite your emotional disability. It means that you may not be able to perform specific jobs because of depression but may be suitable for other jobs despite your symptoms. If the SSA concludes that you are still employable for roles that you can manage with your symptoms, you may not qualify for disability benefits.

Lastly, the SSA will also determine whether you are taking all the steps on how to prevent depression. For example, if you are also known to indulge in substance abuse, it may reduce your chances of qualifying for disability benefits. In these cases, you will need to prove that the symptoms of depression will prevent you from working even if you stopped consuming these substances.

After the evaluation, if the SSA panel believes that the answer to the question “is depression a disability for you” is yes, you will qualify for benefits.

Tips on How to Get Disability for Depression

Tips on How to Get Disability for Depression

There are provisions to receive emotional disability benefits for depression but you may need strong evidence to get the same. Some of how you can increase your chances of qualifying for the benefits are to:

Write a convincing personal narrative about your condition.
Submit a psychological evaluation that helps the SSA conclude is depression a disability for you.

Frequent doctor visits will support your case as the doctor can confirm the severity of your symptoms.

Be consistent with the prescribed treatment to prove that you are taking all possible measures on how to prevent depression from your end.

Avoid substance abuse or alcohol consumption as they might undermine your case.

Hire an attorney with expertise in how to get a disability for depression.

FAQs About Depression and Disability Benefits

Any mental condition or ailment whose symptoms impair the patient from performing day-to-day activities qualifies as a disability. These symptoms result in a disability because the individual is not able to secure jobs due to their mental condition. This may include anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorder, and bipolar disorder.

Is depression a disability is a commonly asked question. If the symptoms of depression are so severe that they result in prolonged unemployment, yes, it is a disability. In some cases, the severity of symptoms is a deciding factor more than the presence of the condition.

To prove that you have a mental condition that is severe enough to prevent you from working, you first need to get a psychological evaluation. Consult a doctor on how to prevent depression and treat your symptoms. If the doctor identifies that you are suffering from a mental disability, then continue your treatment and visits for a year.

If even after a year, your symptoms are too severe to work with an employer, you can file for disability benefits. The medical reports from your doctor will prove that you are suffering from severe symptoms despite taking all measures from your end to address them. This medical evidence will help you in qualifying for disability benefits.

In terms of getting disability benefits, anxiety disorders and depression qualify as disabilities if the symptoms are severe and long-lasting. If you suffer from multiple symptoms like fatigue, poor concentration, disturbed sleep, poor appetite, and disinterest in daily activities, you may be incapacitated from working. If these symptoms last for more than a year, leading to unemployment for over 12 months, you can claim disability benefits. You can get in touch with an attorney who can explain how to a get disability for depression to claim benefits in the United States through the SSA.

Depression can be a disability if your symptoms are severe and the tips and treatments on how to prevent depression fail. It is one of the major causes of unemployment worldwide because its symptoms can deter you from performing basic tasks.

If you suffer from severe and chronic symptoms of depression and are unable to work for more than a year, you can claim disability benefits. You will need to supply adequate medical evidence to support your claims, along with the financial information required by the specific program. Having treatment records and supporting evidence from your doctor is essential for qualification.


In today’s stressful world, we all keep looking for tips on how to prevent depression. However, some people suffer from such severe depression that even the best treatments fail to restore normalcy in their lives. Severe symptoms of depression can destroy your performance or ability to work. This is the reason why several patients with depression apply for disability benefits every year.

If you are wondering how to get a disability for depression, you should first check your eligibility for the various schemes floated by the government. An attorney can help you apply for these programs with the appropriate documentation. However, it can be a long process that will demand substantial medical evidence to prove your disability.

Is depression a disability interrupting your life? If yes, then do remain consistent with your medical visits and treatment to improve your chances of getting disability benefits. The road to recovery may be long, but there are ways to get adequate support to survive through this battle!

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