Disability benefits for depression

A large number of the claims that are processed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) are for disability benefits for depression. Typically, only the most severe cases of depression are eligible for disability.


Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is paid to a claimant if he worked long enough to pay enough Social Security taxes into the system. The claimant receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) based on financial need.

Definition of "Disabled"

The SSA has a three-pronged test for disability that all claimants must meet to receive benefits: the claimant is unable to do work she had done before; the SSA determines that the claimant cannot adjust to work because of his condition; and the disability will last for at least one year or result in death.


Documentation of the claimant's depression is key to receiving benefits, so he should be prepared to show all medical records pertaining to their condition.

No Medical Records?

If the claimant does not have medical records to substantiate her claim for disability based on depression, the SSA will mandate a mental status exam (MSE).

When to Apply

The claimant should apply for disability benefits as soon as their doctor has decided that the depression for which they suffer is disabling.

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About the Author

Christine Parizo is a Massachusetts-based paralegal by day and freelance writer by night. She has been published in The National Paralegal Reporter and was assistant editor at TechTarget, Inc. Parizo holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and public information from Emerson College and a Certificate in Paralegal Studies.