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Does SSA Qualify Depression as a Disability?

Depression is a common mental health disorder that can take many forms and can range from mild to severe. It often results from emotionally traumatic situations such as the death of a loved one or divorce. While some people may experience brief periods of depression, clinical depression, or major depressive disorder (MDD), is different in that it lasts for two weeks or more and is accompanied by severe daily symptoms that significantly interfere with the individual’s ability to function effectively on a daily basis. This includes difficulty performing tasks at work, engaging in family activities, and managing other life responsibilities.

In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits due to depression, an individual must be able to demonstrate that their major depressive disorder has lasted – or is expected to last – for at least one year and is severely limiting certain areas of mental functioning. Furthermore, they must also prove that their condition prevents them from working and earning over $1,300 per month.

How Do I Get Approved for Benefits with Depression?

To meet the listing, an individual must have an extreme limitation in one area or marked limitations in two areas including: work activities, social functioning, concentration, and managing oneself. Social Security also allows an alternative listing for depression if the individual has been medically documented as serious and persistent over at least two years.

In addition to meeting the listing criteria, individuals can also qualify for disability benefits through a medical-vocational allowance which takes into account their ability to carry instructions, make simple decisions, respond appropriately to supervision and co-workers, and handle changes in routine. It is important to note that depression must be severe enough for an individual to be approved by Social Security in order for them to receive disability benefits.

Other forms of depression may apply depending on the situation such as bipolar disorder where patients experience both elated moods (mania) and depressed moods as well as childhood depression. In order to assess eligibility for disability benefits related to these disorders it is best to consult with a qualified attorney about specific symptoms and diagnosis.