Proving a Disability Based on Depression

By: Disability Group

Did you know?

About 19 million Americans live with major depression. Major depression can be debilitating and require medication, therapy, and treatment.  For many, depression affects the ability to function and prevents people from holding a steady job. When filing for disability benefits for major depression, you must understand what information the Social Security Administration considers.


What Social Security is looking for?


Depression Must be Severe:

Unlike physical impairments that can be proven with blood tests and x-rays, mental impairments are largely based on patient’s complaints to mental health doctors.  To prove depression, you must:


● See a mental health professional regularly


● Obtain and keep records of office visits


● Don’t miss appointments or leave gaps in medical records


● Comply with treatment!


Lack of treatment suggests that the person is able to manage the depression and that it is not severe.  Do not contribute to your impairment by avoiding care.


Records Must Show Symptoms:

Records must be consistent and show that 4 of the following symptoms have continued to exist despite treatment:


● Anhedonia or pervasive loss of interest in almost all activities;


● Appetite disturbance with change in weight;


● Sleep disturbance;


● Psychomotor agitation or retardation


● Decreased energy, feelings of guilt or worthlessness;


● Difficulty concentrating or thinking


● Thoughts of suicide, or hallucinations


● Delusions or paranoid thinking 


Symptoms Must Persist At Least 12 Months:

Valid claims for depression must show symptoms have lasted or will last at least 12 months  



The effect that depression has on a person’s ability to function is crucial! Applicants must show that the depression is affecting daily function and that they are not contributing to the disability.


● Sustain sobriety from drugs and alcohol at least 6 months prior to applying for disability


● Visit doctor regularly and obtain a supportive statement


● Take proscribed medication and comply with treatment