You may already know you can apply for disability benefits through the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) if you struggle with a physical disability that prevents you from working.
What you might not realize is that you may also be eligible for disability benefits if you struggle with a mental illness such as depression.
The following overview will help you better understand how an individual with depression may apply for SSA disability benefits.
However, it’s important to remember that the information here is fairly general. For more specific advice regarding your case, strongly consider meeting with a disability attorney.
Determine How Your Depression Limits You
You need to demonstrate to the SSA that the nature of your depression is such that it genuinely limits your ability to secure and maintain employment. To qualify for disability benefits, you should establish the following:
- Your depression is currently severe enough to prevent you from working consistently
- Your depression is likely to continue preventing you from working for at least 12 months
You may also find it helpful to provide evidence showing your depression has interfered with your ability to perform work tasks in the past.
Be aware, statistically, it’s not uncommon for the SSA to deny or reject initial claims, requiring that applicants submit more evidence.
If you can offer evidence indicating your capacity to work with depression, you may increase your odds of receiving an approval when you apply for benefits with depression.
Consult the Blue Book For Depression
The SSA’s Blue Book is a valuable resource. It offers information regarding the types of conditions that qualify applicants for depression disability benefits.
Per the Blue Book’s section on depression, medical evidence that may serve as evidence of your eligibility includes any that indicates at least five of the following symptoms:
- A frequent or consistent depressed mood
- Loss of interest in most activities
- Changes in weight resulting from appetite changes
- Sleep issues
- Psychomotor agitation or similar problems that may be observable
- Loss of energy
- Feeling guilty or worthless
- Suicidal ideation or thoughts about death
- Struggles with concentration and/or cognition
You’ll likely need to coordinate with a doctor or other such professional to prove you experience these symptoms.
Gather Required Documents
A doctor or mental health professional may assist you in gathering the medical documentation you will need to submit when applying for disability benefits.
Additional pieces of documentation you should gather include (but aren’t necessarily limited to) the following:
- Birth certificate, or a similar document proving your birth
- Proof of citizenship or lawful alien status
- If you served in the military prior to 1968, military discharge papers
- Self-employment tax returns and/or W-2s from the most recent year
You will also need to submit an Adult Disability Report describing your condition and work history. You might have to submit pay stubs, documentation of workers’ compensation benefits you’ve received, etc. as well.
Speak With a Disability Attorney
Gathering all the evidence necessary to show you’re eligible for disability benefits due to depression may be a complex task. Luckily, it’s not a task you need to handle on your own.
Take the free case evaluation to speak with a disability attorney representing clients like yourself. A lawyer’s assistance may play a vital role in your case.