Can You Get Disability Benefits if You Have Depression?

Depression is a difficult, stigmatized mental health disorder. It can be incredibly challenging to deal with—and, in some cases, completely debilitating. Unfortunately, a significant number of Americans have depression. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) estimates that nearly 1 in 13 people nationwide (17 million in total) are affected by major depressive disorder. 

This raises an important question: Can you get Social Security disability (SSD) benefits for depression? The answer is ‘yes’—but it can be challenging to do so in practice. You need comprehensive medical evidence. Here, our Arizona Social Security disability attorneys explain the most important things to know about applying for disability benefits if you have depression. 

Qualifying for SSDI or SSI Benefits: Medical and Technical Requirements 

Social Security disability benefits are paid by two distinct federal programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Whether you are applying for SSDI or SSI benefits, you must satisfy both the medical and technical requirements of the program in order to get your benefits paid. As part of the medical requirement, you will need to prove that you are disabled for the purposes of the law. Depression can (but does not always) qualify as a disability.   

Depressive Disorder is a Listed Impairment 

Depressive disorder is a listed impairment in the Social Security disability Blue Book (12.04 Depressive, bipolar and related disorders). In fact, a number of different mental health disorders are listed as conditions that could qualify for SSD benefits, including: 

  • Neurocognitive disorders; 
  • Schizophrenia; 
  • Depressive disorders; 
  • Bipolar disorder;
  • Intellectual disorders; 
  • Severe anxiety; and 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Know the Challenge: It is Difficult to Get SSDI/SSI Benefits for Depression

As depression is a listed impairment in the Social Security disability Blue Book, there is no dispute: It is possible to qualify for SSD benefits for depression. However, it would be a major mistake to assume that it is easy to do so. Quite the contrary, getting SSDI benefits or SSI benefits for depression can be frustrating and challenging. Many people submit Social Security disability claims for depressive order. The SSA carefully scrutinizes these claims. Sadly, denials happen. In order to get disability benefits for depression in Arizona, an applicant must prove the following two things: 

  1. They have been officially diagnosed with depressive disorder by a qualified physician; and
  2. Their depression is severe enough that it interferes with their reasonable ability to work. 

In other words, proving that you have depression is not enough to qualify for Social Security disability benefits in Arizona. The SSA could determine that you have a valid diagnosis of depression and yet deny your claim for SSDI benefits or SSI benefits anyway on the grounds that you can still hold a job despite having the condition. 

Medical Evidence is the Key to a Social Security Disability Case

As with other types of Social Security disability claims, medical evidence is the key in any depression claim. To successfully obtain Social Security benefits for depression, you must have comprehensive medical evidence that clearly documents both the existence and severity of your medical conditions. Here are three tips to keep in mind when bringing an SSDI/SSI depression claim: 

  1. Your medical records should be comprehensive and ongoing. You need to clearly show that you have been diagnosed with and are being treated for major depressive disorder. 
  2. Your medical documentation should support the fact that you cannot reasonably hold a job due to the severity of your condition. An SSD claim can be denied if an applicant fails to demonstrate that they are too disabled to work. 
  3. You should be ready to seek professional guidance and support. SSD claims for depression are denied at higher rates than many other listed impairments. An Arizona Social Security disability lawyer can help protect your rights. 

Summary: You can get Social Security disability benefits for major depressive disorder. However, your claim will only be approved if you can establish that your mental health impairment is so severe that you cannot reasonably be employed in your current position or in a suitable alternative position.  

Call Our Arizona Social Security Disability Lawyers for Immediate Help 

At Pekas Smith: Arizona Disability Attorneys, we have the legal knowledge and professional experience that you and your family can trust. If you have any questions about Social Security disability claims and depression, we are here to help. Contact us now for a no cost, no obligation initial consultation. From our Phoenix office, we provide Social Security disability representation throughout all of Arizona, including in Surprise, Peoria, Payson, Gilbert, and Chandler. 

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