Clinical depression is a serious mental health problem that can limit an individual's ability to function. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognises lasting depression as a legitimate disability, but you must provide proper diagnosis and documentation to qualify for benefits. A diagnosis of mental illness from a qualified psychiatrist is necessary to receive disability benefits due to depression.
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Read qualifications for disability benefits. The disability program provides money for qualified individuals who are unable to work full time. The benefits are based on employment history (which determines how much a worker has paid into the Social Security system) on a sliding scale that compares age with number of years employed. See Additional Resources below for more information on who qualifies for disability.
Schedule interview (or apply online). The application for disability is called a Disability and Work History Report. This report can be completed online (see Additional Resources below), but it can also be completed over the phone or at your local Social Security office. Call (800) 772-1213 to schedule a phone or in-person interview.
Gather documents. When you schedule an interview to complete the Disability and Work History Report, you will receive a starter kit in the mail to help you gather all the documents you need to apply for benefits. As the name of the report implies, the agency wants to document your employment and medical history for the prior fifteen years.
Complete application. If the medical history does not adequately reflect a recent diagnosis of depression, an applicant might be required to undergo psychological screening or be directed to take other steps by the SSA. The results of the application are disclosed in a letter. If an application is denied, the determination can be appealed in writing within 60 days of the letter's issuance.
Tips and warnings
- Other information needed to complete the disability report includes a birth certificate (or proof of legal residency), the most recent Form W-2, Social Security numbers for a spouse and minor children (if applicable) and bank account information.
- A deaf or hard of hearing person can call the toll-free TTY number, (800) 325-0778, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on business days to schedule an interview.
- In order for your depression to count as a qualifying disability, a professional psychiatrist must have determined that the symptoms of depression are present to a degree that prevents working at any job and that the symptoms are likely to persist for more than twelve months. Short-term depression, or that which does not make all work impossible, does not qualify you for disability benefits.
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