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Disability Lawyer > Blog > Social Security Disability > Depression and SSDI Benefits: Am I Eligible?

Depression and SSDI Benefits: Am I Eligible?


Being unable to work because of a disabling medical condition is devastating for most Americans, whether their condition results from a traumatic injury or a serious illness. When a medical condition means that you cannot work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, which are payments through a program administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). In order to be eligible for SSDI benefits, you will need to meet two major requirements: 1) you have a disability as the SSA defines it, and 2) you have worked long enough.

You may know that you already meet the second requirement because you have worked on a full-time basis, for example, for many years (although full-time work is not necessarily required). Yet you might be wondering if you actually have a disability as the SSA defines it, especially if your disabling condition is a mental disorder. More specifically, you might be wondering if you can be eligible for SSDI benefits due to your depression. The short answer is that depression may qualify a person for SSDI benefits. A national disability benefits lawyer can tell you more.

Understanding How “Disability” is Defined 

In order for a person to have a disability that makes them eligible for SSDI benefits, they must have a disabling medical condition that prevents them from engaging in any substantial gainful activity (commonly known as SGA) for at least one year, or their condition must be expected to result in their death. Many of the medical conditions that can make a person eligible for SSDI are listed in the “Blue Book,” which contains a broad range of condition categories and specific disorders within them.

Mental disorders are one specific section of the “Blue Book.” Within that category, section 12.04 pertains specifically to “depressive, bipolar, and related disorders.” Yet simply being diagnosed with depression is not necessarily sufficient if you want to receive SSDI benefits. For many people with diagnosed forms of depression, the condition may be expected to last for one year or longer, but the condition also must prevent the person from engaging in substantial gainful activity. How can you determine if your depression diagnosis could qualify you for SSDI benefits?

Checklist for Depression and SSDI Benefits 

The “Blue Book” actually provides clear information about what type of medical documentation is necessary to prove that diagnosed depression would qualify as a “disability” for purposes of SSDI eligibility. For diagnosed depression (separate from bipolar disorder), the “Blue Book” says you must have five or more of the following:

  • Depressed mood;
  • Diminished interest in almost all activities;
  • Appetite disturbance with change in weight;
  • Sleep disturbance;
  • Observator psychomotor agitation or retardation;
  • Decreased energy;
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness;
  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking; or
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

In addition, one of the following two things must also be true, according to the “Blue Book”:

  • You have either an extreme limitation of one of the following or marked limited of two of the following: 1) ability to understand, remember, or apply information; 2) interact with others; 3) concentrate, persist, or maintain pace; or 4) adapt or manage oneself; OR
  • Your depression is “serious and persistent,” which means you have medical documentation that it has lasted for at least two years, and you have undergone treatment with marginal adjustment.

Contact a National SSDI Benefits Attorney Today 

Do you need help seeking SSDI benefits for your depression? One of the experienced national SSDI benefits lawyers at the Law Offices of Stephen Barszcz can assist you today. Contact us for more information.



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