Depression and Social Security Disability

This page covers depression in Social Security Disability (SSDI) and SSI claims.

You will learn from this page what you have to prove to win Social Security Disability for depression.  I will also address the evidence that should be submitted in a claim for SSDI for depression.  I will discuss Social Security's medical listing for depression.  I will talk about how depression often can help win Social Security benefits when combined with other medical conditions.  If you have any questions or would like a free evaluation of your case e-mail me.


Find a Lawyer for your SSDI claim for depression

You can also call me at 1-877-527-5529 and ask for Karl.

Depression is a common condition found in Social Security Disability claims.  There are different degrees of depression and may affect different people in different ways.  Whether depression is your sole disabling condition or is just one of your medical conditions you should make sure you submit all the appropriate medical evidence.  Make sure your file contains all ER visits and hospital stays for depression.  You should also submit your treating psychiatrist, psychologist, and therapist records.  These records should contain any notes from sessions, any psychological testing, and any evaluations.  It is also crucial that you have RFC forms filled out by your treating psychiatrist.  These RFC forms are important because they will show the limitations you have from your depression.  The limitations from deprssion can be very helpful in proving you are disabled.  The limitations from depression can have a significant affect on your ability to perform all types of work.  So why are limitations from depression so important even if it is not your only medical condition.  I will try and illustrate with an example.  Lets say you suffer from back pain due to herniated discs in your lumbar spine and as a result you developed depression (this is very common).  Lets say the limitations from your back conditions does not allow you to lift greater than 10 pounds and generally limits you to sedentary work.  If you are under 50 years old or even if you are 50 years old and have prior sedentary work experience chances are Social Security will find you could do sedentary work or your prior sedentary work and find you not disabled.  However, if you can show you have additional limitations from your depression (examples: memory difficulties, concentration problems, difficulty dealing with people, maintaining a schedule) these type of limitations affect all types of jobs at all exertional levels including sedentary jobs.  If severe enough these limitations will reduce the number of jobs Social Security will find you can do and give you a much better chance of being found disabled.

Depression and the medical listing of impairments.

If your depression is severe enough you may meet or equal the listing for depression.  If you meet or equal the listing than you will be found disabled.  Below is the listing most commonly used for depression.  I strongly suggest you read the entire listing for mental disorders.

12.04 Affective disorders: Characterized by a disturbance of mood, accompanied by a full or partial manic or depressive syndrome. Mood refers to a prolonged emotion that colors the whole psychic life; it generally involves either depression or elation.

The required level of severity for these disorders is met when the requirements in both A and B are satisfied, or when the requirements in C are satisfied.

A. Medically documented persistence, either continuous or intermittent, of one of the following:

1. Depressive syndrome characterized by at least four of the following:

a. Anhedonia or pervasive loss of interest in almost all activities; or

b. Appetite disturbance with change in weight; or

c. Sleep disturbance; or

d. Psychomotor agitation or retardation; or

e. Decreased energy; or

f. Feelings of guilt or worthlessness; or

g. Difficulty concentrating or thinking; or

h. Thoughts of suicide; or

i. Hallucinations, delusions, or paranoid thinking; or

2. Manic syndrome characterized by at least three of the following:

a. Hyperactivity; or

b. Pressure of speech; or

c. Flight of ideas; or

d. Inflated self-esteem; or

e. Decreased need for sleep; or

f. Easy distractibility; or

g. Involvement in activities that have a high probability of painful consequences which are not recognized; or

h. Hallucinations, delusions or paranoid thinking; or

3. Bipolar syndrome with a history of episodic periods manifested by the full symptomatic picture of both manic and depressive syndromes (and currently characterized by either or both syndromes);


B. Resulting in at least two of the following:

1. Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or

2. Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or

3. Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or

4. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration;


C. Medically documented history of a chronic affective disorder of at least 2 years' duration that has caused more than a minimal limitation of ability to do basic work activities, with symptoms or signs currently attenuated by medication or psychosocial support, and one of the following:

1. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration; or

2. A residual disease process that has resulted in such marginal adjustment that even a minimal increase in mental demands or change in the environment would be predicted to cause the individual to decompensate; or

3. Current history of 1 or more years' inability to function outside a highly supportive living arrangement, with an indication of continued need for such an arrangement.
Now you might read the above and be saying to yourself that you have what you need to meet the listing.  Keep in mind these listings are extremely hard to meet.  It usually takes a doctor with a good understanding of the listing and all supporting evidence in the file to find you meet the listing.  If you think you meet the listing it would be a good idea to bring a copy of the full listing for mental disorders to your doctor and ask him.  If he thinks you meet the listing ask him for a written statement outlining what listing and why and refrencing the medical evidence.

The most important thing to remember is that if you suffer from depression even if it is not your "main" disability make sure to get your medical evidence for depression in the file.  Make sure this evidence includes a mental RFC from your treating psychiatrist.

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We have attempted to provide up to date and accurate information, however the information in this site is not guaranteed.  No attorney client relationship exist.  The information in this site is not a substitute for consultation with a qualified attorney.
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If you suffer from depression and need help getting your Social Security Disability benefits call us at 1-877-527-5529.