The Challenges of Getting for Social Security Benefits With Depression

Some people are still unaware that Social Security provides for more than just retirement. Benefits are also available for people who are unable to work, including those suffering from depression.

The difficulty for people coping with a disability like depression is that like anything from the government, there are complex rules governing who qualifies for SSDI benefits, also known as Social Security Disability Insurance.

People With Depression Face Unique Challenges to Obtaining Benefits

Gathering all of the needed documentation and navigating through the process to try and obtain benefits can be a stressful process for anyone, let alone someone already suffering from depression. In fact, these kinds of stressors can actually exacerbate a person's depression.

In addition, depression often leaves people unable to face work. Without income, many depressed individuals are further stressed by serious financial trouble. One recent survey of people waiting on SSDI decisions found that 15 percent were facing foreclosure.

Qualifying for SSDI Benefits

To determine Social Security Disability eligibility, the Social Security Administration initially looks for the following:

  1. Whether the person is now working. If the person currently earns too much, he or she would likely not qualify.
  2. Whether the person's impairment is "severe," as defined by the government.
  3. Whether the impairment is one recognized by the SSA, and if so, if the person's symptoms match the SSA's criteria for that impairment.
  4. Whether the person can still do his or her old job (or one like it).
  5. Whether the person could perform some other job, considering the person's age, education and work experience.

Although each of these five factors may seem straightforward, they are actually quite complex. For example, the third factor includes two sub-parts (A and B) which the person must meet in order to qualify. The person must show the symptoms listed in part A as well as the effects on life shown in part B. Alternatively, there is also a part C with its own set of medical requirements.

When wading through the agency's requirements and definitions, many people recognize their own story, but are left wondering how best to document their mental illness to ensure they are approved. That's where an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer comes in. An attorney can explain the process fully and help navigate the various requirements to ensure people with depression are able to get the benefits they need.