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Claiming Social Security disability for depression

Sep 14, 2021 |

Depression may disrupt sleeping, memory, eating and other basic functions and be as disruptive as physical conditions. This mood disorder may qualify for Social Security disability benefits if certain requirements are met.

Social Security requirements

The Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs may aid a recipient who lives with depression as a disability and have income and assets below specific limits.

Depression is a disability if it prevents a person from completing daily activities and tasks. It includes clinical depression, persistent depressive disorder, postpartum depression, and depression with psychosis episodes.

SSDI is the primary method for obtaining disability benefits. Claimants must submit medical documentation of a formal diagnosis that has at least five of these symptoms:

  • Depressed mood
  • Appetite disturbance and weight change
  • Reduced interest in leisure or enjoyable activities
  • Visible psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • Reduced energy levels and fatigue
  • Sleep disruption
  • Problems with concentrating on tasks
  • Guilt, hopelessness, or worthlessness feelings
  • Considering suicide, self-harm, or death

Claimants must also present information that they have extreme limitation of one or notable restriction of two mental functioning areas. These include:

  • Interaction with others
  • Understanding, remembering, or applying information
  • Concentration, persisting or maintaining pace
  • Adapting or managing themselves

If a claimant cannot show any of these limitations, they may submit proof that their impairment is serious and persistent with documented proof that they lived with the symptoms for at least two years. Claimants can also provide evidence that they received ongoing treatment that provided some relief and that they are not readily able to adapt to new changes in daily routine or environment.


For SSDI eligibility, a person must have paid into Social Security through a previous job long enough to accrue benefits. Credit requirements change annually. Forty credits are required for SSDI depression benefits in 2021. Four credits may be earned each year. Typically, people must work and pay Social Security for 10 years. Claimants have to be under retirement age.

Four SSDI eligibility, the depression must prevent the claimant from working. SSDI benefits are unavailable for a short-term or partial disability.

SSI, on the other hand, is a monthly payment assistance program for individuals whose income does not cover necessities. Most recipients under 65 have assets below $2,000.

SSI requirements are less strict because it is intended to meet basic clothing, food, or housing needs. A recipient must live with a disability or be at least 65, have a limited income and assets, be a U.S. citizen, national or qualified noncitizen.