How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?

Claiming depression as a disability

If an individual alleges that they are disabled due to depression, it would be helpful to have medical records from an acceptable mental health treatment source. Acceptable mental health treatments sources might include licensed or certified psychologists, or licensed physicians including psychiatrists, or hospitals.

If a claimant does not have a history of medical treatment (for example, they have depression but have never been formally treated for it), or does not have recent medical treatment to address their depression, their disability case may require a consultative examination, or CE. What is a CE? A consultative exam is (a one time examination performed by a physician who is paid by Social Security. It generally does not lead to an approval for disability benefits.

There are reasons why consultative examinations do not lead to an approval for disability benefits. If the examining doctor has never seen the individual prior to the examination and the examination is just to give a basic "current" status of the condition, it would stand to reason that they have no way of really determining how an individual’s depression limits their day to day life.

The point being made here is that if an individual is filing for disability based on depression or any other condition, it really helps their chances of winning their disability case if they have an established history of treatment, and the corresponding records to document the severity of their condition and the ways in which they are consequently limited. In other words, if depression will be on your disability application, seek treatment so your condition can be documented with medical record evidence.

Winning disability for depression using the listings

For cases in which depression is alleged, the disability examiner will use the criteria contained in impairment listing 12.04 to evaluate the severity of their condition. Without listing all the criteria of the impairment listing for depression, it should be stated that an individual usually has to have definable symptoms that are medically documented to be either continuous or intermittent.

Note: Listings are contained in the social security administration's blue book which is available online and has in the past been published under the title "Disability Evaluation under Social Security; most conditions are not listed in the blue book and most approvals are not made on the basis of satisfying the requirements of a listing, but, rather on determining whether or not a claimant can return to their past work or perform some type of other work.

Generally, to meet or equal the criteria of impairment listing 12.04, the listing which pertains to depression, the following must be satisfied:

1. An individual must suffer from episodes of decompensation of an extended duration, or

2. Have a disease process in which even minimal changes in mental demands, or a change in environment, could cause the individual to decompensate, or

3. Their depression has caused them to be unable to function outside a very supportive living arrangement and it appears there is a continued need this arrangement.

What if you don't meet the listing for depression?

Satisfying the listing for depression is difficult. In fact, getting disability through any of the listings can be hard because they are so specific in their criteria. However, even if the symptoms or limitations of an individual’s depression do not meet or equal the impairment listing, they still may qualify for disability under SSD or SSI.

Even if you don't qualify through a listing, a disability examiner will use a process that uses your medical records to decide what you can, and cannot, do. This is your residual functional capacity. This will be compared to the requirements of your past jobs and the requirements of any other jobs you might be expected to do based on your age, education, and skills. If you can't do other work, or your past work, you may be approved for disability.

This type of approval is a medical vocational allowance approval.

Medical vocational approvals take into consideration an individual’s age, education, medical or mental conditions, and their residual functional capacity. Medical vocational allowances actually form the basis for most approvals versus meeting the requirement of a listing in the SSA blue book.

In summary and to simplify, depression or any other mental or physical condition may qualify an individual for disability as long as it has prevented them from performing substantial gainful activity (SGA) of twelve continuous months, or is expected to prevent them from performing SGA for twelve months.

Once again, any mental or physical condition can qualify a person for disability because Social Security does not look so much at specific conditions as it does how the condition limits an individual’s ability to work. The Social Security definition of disability clearly states the importance of work or the lack thereof.

Translation: if the condition is severe enough to prevent a person from working at any job while earning a substantial and gainful gross monthly income, then the social security administration will consider that person disabled and eligible for disability benefits.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

The list of differences between Social Security Disability and SSI
How to get disability, tip 3
What does it mean when a disability judge is reviewing your case?
Can You Get Approved For SSI or SSD Benefits IF You Have A Mental Condition But Do Not Take Medication?
Will Your Claim for Disability be Handled Differently if it is Based on a Physical or Mental Problem?
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
The Social Security Disability and SSI Process for Mental Claims based on Mental Disorders
When you file for disability and have both Mental and Physical Conditions
What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Are SSI and Social Security Disability Requirements Tougher For Mental Claims?
Social Security Disability, SSI, Mental Disorders, and Functional Limitations
Can you file for SSD and SSI at the same time and have the cases worked on separately?

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.