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As each year goes by, health experts and medical professionals learn more and more about the full impact of depression. We now see that battling this invisible disease is not just common, but for many people, a part of everyday life.

But what if you are really struggling, to the point where it seems to be disrupting everything? Can you get disability benefits because of your depression?

Mental impairments and SSDI

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) considers depression to be a mental disorder. These types of impairments make up a significant portion of all SSDI claims, according to one group. It is not just older individuals, either. SSDI benefits for mental impairments are becoming more prevalent among people under the age of 50.

However, simply having depression does not mean you will get SSDI disability benefits. In order to qualify, you must meet some very specific criteria.

Is the depression disabling?

In addition to meeting all of the basic SSDI eligibility requirements, an applicant seeking benefits for depression must demonstrate some specific symptoms and circumstances. The Social Security Administration’s section on mental disorders includes detailed information about depressive disorders.

In order to receive SSDI for depression, your depressive disorder first must include at least five of the following symptoms:

  • A depressed mood
  • A lack of interest in almost all activities
  • Poor appetite with weight change
  • Sleep disturbance
  • “Observable psychomotor agitation”
  • Lack of energy
  • Beset by guilt or worthlessness
  • Problems thinking or concentrating
  • Thoughts of death

On top of that, your application must show you also meet one of these two criteria. Either:

  1. Your depression markedly limits your ability to process or apply information, interact with other individuals, concentrate, or manage yourself
  2. Your depression is “serious and persistent,” meaning you have a detailed, medical history documenting your disease for at least two years

If you do indeed qualify under these guidelines, then you may be able to receive disability benefits for your depression. However, the agency does not simply take your word for it. You have to prove these impacts are occurring, using documents, medical records and other evidence.

Only by stating the strongest case possible can you have the best chance at SSDI benefits.