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How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits with Depression

How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits with Depression

Depression affects millions of people in the U.S. and for some the symptoms of depression can be debilitating. There are many different symptoms of depression and they have a different impact on each person. Some people can function without difficulty even though they have depression while others may be unable to get out of bed, take care of themselves, or hold down a job because of the way that their symptoms affect them. If you have been diagnosed with depression and you can’t work because of the severity of your depression you can file a claim for Social Security disability benefits as long as you expect that you won’t be able to work because of depression for at least a year.

Medically Qualifying for Disability Benefits Due to Depression

The Social Security Administration puts out a book that lists of all the physical and mental health conditions that qualify for disability benefits called the Blue Book. You can search through the Blue Book on the SSA’s website if you want to look up a particular condition. Every condition listed in the book has a particular set of requirements that you must meet before you are able to be approved for benefits. Before a claim for disability due to depression can be approved the person applying needs meet the Blue Book listing for depression by showing that they have five or more of these common symptoms of depression: 

• appetite disturbance (poor appetite or overeating) resulting in a change in weight

• sleep disturbance (insomnia or oversleeping)
• depressed mood
• decreased interest in almost all activities

• difficulty concentrating or thinking

• feelings of worthlessness or guilt

• thoughts of death or suicide

• a slowing of physical movement and reactions, including speech, or increased physical agitation, such as hand wringing or pacing.

Then they must also show that they are limited in their ability to work because of an extreme limitation in one or more of these areas or a severe limitation in two or more of these areas:

• understanding, remembering, or applying information (the ability to understand instructions, learn new things, apply new knowledge to tasks, and use judgment in decisions)

• concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace in performing tasks (the ability to complete tasks), and/or

• interacting with others (the ability to use socially appropriate behaviors) shopping, dressing, and practicing good hygiene).
• adapting or managing oneself (having practical personal skills like paying bills, cooking,

Medical documentation that will back up your claim can be anything from a doctor’s diagnosis and PET scans or MRIs to statements from former employers or social workers about the person’s ability to function.

Medical Vocational Allowance

What can you do if you don’t meet the requirements in the Blue Book but you still can’t work because of depression? It happens every day. The best thing to do is file a claim but ask for a Medical Vocational Allowance. To qualify under this exception your doctor will need to fill out a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) evaluation for you. The RFC is your doctor’s description of your symptoms and explanation of how they limit your ability your work.

When you have the RFC submit your claim with all of your medical documentation the RFC. The SSA will look at the RFC, your employment history, your age, and other factors to decide if there’s some type of work that you can do. If they can’t find any work that you can do without retraining, then you may be declared eligible for benefits.

Applying for Disability Benefits

You can apply for disability benefits online at any time if getting out is hard for you. But if you need help with the forms or if you have questions you can meet with the friendly person at your local SSA office by making an appointment. Bring all of your documentation, including your RFC if you have one, and they will help you fill out and file the claim.

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