Depression and Qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance

Mental disorders, including depression, do qualify for Social Security Disability Income in certain circumstances. Even if you’re initially denied, you can enlist the help of a qualified Social Security claims attorney to appeal your decision and potentially get approval.

One of the fastest-growing categories of Social Security and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applications is for those with significant mental illnesses. Given the stress of everything that 2020 has brought us plus the ongoing stressors of everyday life, it’s no surprise that anxiety, panic, and other disorders are becoming more severe each year. Depression is perhaps the most significant – and wide-ranging – of these and can qualify for SSDI under certain circumstances.

How Severe Depression Qualifies for SSDI

If your specific case of depression has been formally diagnosed by a qualified medical professional and you’re unable to work because of it, you may qualify for SSDI as long as you’ve worked and paid into Social Security in the past.

Depression could qualify for SSDI if it meets at least five of the following symptoms:

  • Depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in most activities
  • Significant changes in your appetite and weight
  • Sleeping issues
  • Movements that are either lethargic or agitated and are noticeable to others
  • Loss of energy
  • Feeling guilty or worthless
  • Problems with concentration
  • Suicidal thoughts

It also needs to meet at least one of the following two:

  • Experiencing problems with comprehending information, interacting with other people, maintaining attention, or caring for yourself (in at least two of these areas).
  • Your specific case of depression is considered serious and persistent enough and documentation shows that a condition lasting more than two years with corresponding treatment attempts. Routine and adapting to change remains difficult.

Meeting SSDI Credit Standards

Qualifying for SSDI requires enough work credits from years paid into Social Security. If you don’t have enough credits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be an option depending on your income and disability situation. You can learn more about the credit requirements and disability thresholds here.


Mental disorders are notoriously difficult to get approval for through the Social Security application process. However, an initial denial shouldn’t stop you in your tracks. Washington and Idaho residents have trusted Schott Law to help with secondary applications and the appeals process to receive government assistance for their ongoing disabilities. Call (509) 328-5789 to learn more and schedule a free consultation.