Depression is a mental health condition that impacts millions of Americans at some point in their life. There are multiple different forms of depression, ranging from postpartum depression experienced by new mothers after the birth of a child to dysthymia, a chronic, mild depression that can persist for life.
For some people, depression is a manageable part of their daily life. Talk therapy and medication can help them control their symptoms and the impact it has on their life. For others, depression can become overwhelming and leave them unable to function.
If you have experienced intense depression symptoms, you may find yourself wondering if you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits because of your condition. Like many mental health conditions, depression may qualify individuals for Social Security Disability under certain circumstances.
The depression needs to be persistent or permanent
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, you need to have a condition that will have a long-term impact on your ability to care for yourself or maintain a job. Severe, chronic depression likely meets this criteria. Individuals struggling with daily life functions for years at a time may become emotionally depleted and unable to continue their efforts.
You need to show that you can't easily resolve the depression
If you have struggled with depression but haven't attempted to treat it, you will have a more difficult time getting approval for disability benefits. That isn't to say it's impossible, but the scrutiny used for mental health disability applications is rigorous.
Before qualifying you for benefits, the government wants to know that a simple prescription medication or several sessions of talk therapy won't resolve the issue. In other words, having documentation of medical attempts to resolve the issue can help build your case for it being a permanent, debilitating condition.
To qualify, your depression must impact your daily life or ability to work
The most significant qualifying factor for mental health conditions is that they impact your ability to perform necessary life functions. Your depression has to do more than make you feel unhappy. It has to impact your ability to socialize, hold a job, care for yourself, tend to your family or maintain relationships.
You will likely need documentation of these issues, such as a history of job loss due to depression-related absenteeism. Evidence that demonstrates that people in your community know that you struggle with depression and have issues functioning as a result can also help bolster your case.
Securing Social Security Disability benefits for depression or other mental health issues is not always an easy process, but that doesn't mean you should avoid it. If depression or a similar condition keeps you from fully living, Social Security Disability benefits could help ensure that your basic needs are met.