Can you collect disability in Texas for depression?

The Social Security Administration awards disability benefits for basically any physical or mental impairment provided that the impairment (or set of impairments; most applicants usually list multiple conditions when they file for disability in Texas or any other state) interferes with their ability to work.

And, of course, when we say "interferes" what we really are referrring to is the fact that under the rules and regulations that guide decisions on SSDI and SSI disability claims, the individual who is applying must have the following:

1. At least one severe, medically determinable (meaning that there must be valid medical evidence to back up the claim) impairment.


Common questions about filing for disability in Texas
2. The impairment must affect the person so severely that it makes it impossible to go back to any of the jobs they have performed within the 15 year period prior to becoming disabled AND also make it impossible for them to switch to anything that Social Security would consider to be suitable other work.

Depression is evaluated under the listings and Social Security also provides a path for approval known as a medical vocational allowance through the 5 step evaluation process known as sequential evaluation.

Most cases that are approved for disability in Texas on the basis of depression are not approved through the listing that addresses depression (affective disorders). But this is true for nearly every listing. Most individuals who are granted benefits must rely on their medical evidence being strong enough to show that they lack the ability to return to their past work, and also have enough limitations that switching to some type of other work is not possible.

Most claims for disability based on depression are denied at the disability application step. In Texas, approximately 72 percent of initial claims are turned down. A higher percentage are given a denial at the reconsideration step, which is the first appeal. And for most claimants filing on the basis of depression, the best chance of getting benefits will be at the hearing step.

Because this is the case, and because getting to a hearing before an Administrative law judge can take over 2 years (counting the time for the application, reconsideration, and requesting the hearing and waiting for it to be scheduled), it is extremely wise to be fully prepared before the hearing and on the day of the hearing.

Preparation, of course, includes having recent medical treatment (SSA cannot award benefits when there is no current medical evidence), getting those records to the judge hearing the case (because the last evidence in the Social Security file will be from the reconsideration appeal and these records will be many months out of date), and having a clear understanding of why the case was previously denied as well as why the case should be approved.

In all cases, persuading a judge to award disability benefits will revolve around proving, via the evidence that the claimant has functional limitations that rule out the ability to perform the duties of their past jobs. Further, those limitations, added to a consideration of the claimant's education, work skills, and age must show an inability to do other work.

At this point, it should be said that it is not the inability to work at all that is the issue, but, rather, the inability to work at a level that provides what SSA considers a substantial and gainful income.

For more filing for disability with depression, you may wish to refer to these pages:

Filing and qualifying for disability with depression
Applying for disability with Depression
Should I List My Past Depression Medications on my disability application?

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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