Slepian Smith, PLLC

When is depression bad enough to qualify for SSDI?

You might already know that depression is considered a disabling condition that can qualify a person for Social Security Disability benefits, but maybe you are not sure how severe the depression has to be to qualify for benefits.

Because sadness is a normal human emotion, most of us feel depressed from time to time, especially after a difficult life event. But the disabling condition known as depression is more than just feeling sad. Major depression, or major depressive disorder, is a mood disorder that should be diagnosed by a doctor.

According to Healthline, it is believed that about 6.7 percent of American adults have at least one major depressive episode in a year, which amounts to 16.2 million people.

In addition to major depressive disorder, other common types of depression include persistent depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, seasonable depression, postpartum depression and psychotic depression.

Any of these types of depression can qualify a person for Social Security Disability benefits. Before that can happen, however, certain conditions must be met.

First, as with any disabling condition, the Social Security Administration requires that the condition prevent you from working for 12 months or longer, be expected to prevent you from working for 12 months or longer, or be expected to result in death. Next, the depression must be medically verified as severe by a professional such as a psychologist, psychiatrist or medical doctor.  

The SSA evaluates the existence and severity of your condition under the criteria of listing 12.04 Affective Disorders, found in the Listing of Impairments. The SSA will look at both treatment notes as well as functional limitations. For example, the SSA may look at treatment notes from your physician as well as the examples you have provided describing how the depression affects your day-to-day life.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to prove the existence and severity of your depression in a way that the SSA accepts, which is why so many claims are denied. However, many people find success after working with an attorney who understands what is necessary to prove a disability claim.

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