Can I Get SSD Benefits for Depression? Chicago, IL, Disability Lawyers Explain.

Depression is an often misunderstood condition. It is much more than sadness or “feeling blue.” Depression can be a serious mental illness, and it affects millions of Americans. Its symptoms can interfere with the normal activities of daily living and make it impossible to function in a work environment. Individuals with depression often have additional, co-occurring mental conditions and physical impairments

But is depression a disability that can officially qualify you for Social Security Disability benefits if it leaves you unable to work?

If you believe your depression is affecting your ability to carry out your daily routine at home and at your job, talk to your doctor. He or she may recommend that you see a psychiatrist or mental health therapist, for an effective diagnosis and treatment of your illness.

Talking to your doctor is also important for getting disability benefits with depression, because your Social Security Disability application will rely on reports from your health care treatment.

Getting disability benefits can make a major difference in your life, providing you some financial stability and easing your worries so you can focus on your own well-being.

If you’re unsure of whether you can qualify for disability benefits for depression, the experienced disability lawyers at Nash Disability Law can discuss your options with you.

We’ve helped more Chicago area people win benefits than any other law firm.

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How to Get Disability Benefits for Depression

You could be approved for disability benefits for depression if your condition does not improve enough with treatment to allow you to work.

Social Security’s evaluation of your application will include a thorough review of your mental health professional’s progress notes from your visits. Your claim for disability with depression should include a detailed explanation of your condition by your health care provider, including how your symptoms have not improved enough to allow you to sustain work.

If you’ve been diagnosed with depression, you may be awarded Social Security Disability benefits if you can prove—with solid medical evidence—that your impairment has lasted or is expected to last for 12 months or longer. And it prevents you from sustaining full-time competitive employment on a consistent and reliable basis.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two programs which may be able to offer financial assistance:

Because the road to benefits can be difficult to navigate, it’s very helpful to hire an experienced local disability attorney to help through the process and present your case.

Specifics about your case of depression, your age, work history and several other details go into your disability claim for depression.

The disability lawyers at Nash Disability Law can provide an initial review of your claim at no cost to you.

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Is Depression a Disability for You? Symptoms You Can Show to Qualify for Benefits

The SSA has a set of procedures in place to identify whether your case of depression is a disability that makes you eligible for benefits.

The procedures for depression and numerous other impairments are published in a handbook known as the “Blue Book.” The various disabling conditions on the long list are called “listings.”

The Blue Book has an impairment listing which specifically addresses “depressive disorder.” In order to get disability for depression, your condition must be characterized by five or more of the following:

  • a. Depressed mood
  • b. Diminished interest in almost all activities
  • c. Appetite disturbance with change in weight
  • d. Sleep disturbance
  • e. Observable psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • f. Decreased energy
  • g. Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • h. Difficulty concentrating or thinking
  • i. Thoughts of death or suicide.


Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning (see 12.00F):

  • 1. Understand, remember, or apply information (see 12.00E1).
  • 2. Interact with others (see 12.00E2).
  • 3. Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace (see 12.00E3).
  • 4. Adapt or manage oneself (see 12.00E4).”

Alternatively, you might be able to qualify for disability with depression without fulfilling the above requirements if “your mental disorder in this listing category is ‘serious and persistent;’ that is, you have a medically documented history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least 2 years, and there is evidence of both:

  • 1. Medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or a highly structured setting(s) that is ongoing and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of your mental disorder (see 12.00G2B)
  • 2. Marginal adjustment, that is, you have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life (see 12.00G2C).”

We so often see cases where a client has medical records from a psychiatrist, but they say things like “stable” or “feels fine.” However, when we talk with them, they report much more severe symptoms, like those listed above. Don’t presume your doctor or therapist knows this and is writing it down. Clearly describe your symptoms at each visit so that your depression is properly treated and documented.

You don’t have to do all the legwork of organizing this documentation on how your condition meets Social Security’s description.

Your disability lawyer can ease the burden on you.

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Can I Get Disability with Depression Another Way?

If you don’t have medical evidence that meets the requirements of a Blue Book listing, there is another way to be approved for benefits.

The agency will assess your “residual functional capacity,” or RFC, to determine if there’s any type of work you’re able to perform given the limitations caused by your condition, or any combination of physical and mental health conditions.

If the SSA determines that you’re unable to do any work—including types of jobs you may have held in the past—you may still be approved based upon your age, education and work experience.

Your age, particularly, can be an important factor in your disability application for depression. Over age 50, Social Security considers you less likely to be able to switch to new lines of work, raising your chances of winning disability benefits.

Social Security will make this determination based on whether you can sustain competitive employment on a consistent, full-time basis, or an equivalent schedule.

At Nash Disability Law, we have successfully represented thousands of individual disability applicants with depression.
So, how do you win a disability claim for depression? Frequent treatment with a psychiatrist and therapist—and specific documentation about your symptoms.

Winning disability benefits for depression can be confusing, frustrating and tough. If you or someone you care about is coping with depression and unable to work, call our disability law firm.

We are local disability attorneys with offices in Chicago and Palos Hills who want to see you moving on to a better time in life.

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