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SSDI for Depression

Many claimants suffer from a mental health condition, such as depression, which is so severe they cannot work. Prior to reviewing a claimant’s mental health condition the Social Security Administration will first consider if they meet the nonmedical requirements for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

The Social Security Administration will first consider if the claimant has worked and paid sufficient employment taxes to be considered “insured” by the Social Security Administration and whether or not their mental health condition is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months. If the claimant meets these nonmedical requirements they will send their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) application to the Disability Determination Services Office (DDS) so a comprehensive review of their medical conditions can be completed.

Winning Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for Depression


Severe depression may have a claimant feeling helpless and hopeless. Claimants may be unable to sleep, lack the ability to eat, lost interest in daily activities and lost the ability to concentrate on work-related tasks.

The Social Security Administration is looking for very specific symptoms to determine if a claimant qualifies for disability for an Affective Disorder (more information can be found in the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments which is a list which details all of the symptoms the SSA expects a claimant to have to be considered automatically disabled).

If you have the following symptoms (listed below), the Social Security Administration will assume you have “met a listing” and will automatically approve your Social Security Disability Insurance claim.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will evaluate depression under the Listing 12.00 for Mental Disorders, specifically 12.04 Affective Disorders. The following information can be found in the SSA Blue Book under Affective Disorders.

12.04 Affective Disorders


According to the SSA, affective disorders are “characterized by a disturbance of mood, accompanied by a full or partial manic or depressive syndrome. Mood refers to a prolonged emotion that colors the whole psychic life; it generally involves either depression or elation.”

The Social Security Administration will expect claimants to exhibit at least four of the following symptoms:

• Anhedonia or pervasive loss of interest in almost all activities; or
• Appetite disturbance with change in weight; or
• Sleep disturbance; or
• Psychomotor agitation or retardation; or
• Decreased energy; or
• Feelings of guilt or worthlessness; or
• Difficulty concentrating or thinking; or
• Thoughts of suicide; or
• Hallucinations, delusions, or paranoid thinking

2. Manic syndrome characterized by at least three of the following:

• Hyperactivity; or
• Pressure of speech; or
• Flight of ideas; or
• Inflated self-esteem; or
• Decreased need for sleep; or
• Easy distractibility; or
• Involvement in activities that have a high probability of painful consequences which are not recognized; or
• Hallucinations, delusions or paranoid thinking

The Social Security Administration will also review whether your symptoms markedly restrict your activities of daily living, your ability to maintain social functioning and your ability to maintain your concentration, persistence and pace in a work environment. Additionally, the Social Security Administration will review whether you have “repeated episodes of decompensation” which they consider an increased need for medical intervention including highly supportive living environments, medication or the need for frequent therapy.

If your condition does not exceed or meet the listing outlined above you will have to prove, through conclusive medical evidence, that your condition is so severe you cannot work your current job, previous work or retrain for new employment.

Specifically, the SSA will attempt to determine how depression affects your ability to perform substantial gainful activity. Can you carry out directions and maintain a persistent work pace, can you get along with a supervisor or coworkers, and can you maintain a consistent work schedule?

If you condition is not severe enough to meet a listing and you cannot prove that you cannot work, the Social Security Administration will deny your SSDI claim.
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