is depression considered a disability

Mariah Brown

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Mariah Brown

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Welcome to this comprehensive guide on depression and disability. If you’ve been wondering whether depression is considered a disability, you’ve come to the right place. As someone with experience in understanding the challenges of depression, you may be searching for information and support. In this article, we will discuss the criteria for depression as a disability, how to apply for disability benefits, and important financial assistance programs. Let’s dive in and explore this topic together.

Depression as a Disability

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. When it comes to depression, it can be considered a disability under the ADA if it significantly affects a person’s ability to perform essential job functions or other major life activities.

Social Security Administration (SSA) Criteria

The Social Security Administration (SSA) also recognizes depression as a disability. However, the SSA has specific criteria that must be met to qualify for disability benefits. They evaluate depression based on the severity and duration of symptoms, as well as their impact on a person’s ability to work.

Types of Depression that May Qualify for Disability

Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder is a common form of depression. It is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable. Individuals with severe major depressive disorder may qualify for disability benefits if their symptoms significantly impact their ability to function in daily life.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder involves alternating episodes of depression and mania. The depressive episodes of bipolar disorder can be severe and debilitating. If an individual’s depressive episodes significantly limit their ability to work or perform essential tasks, they may qualify for disability benefits.

Persistent Depressive Disorder

Persistent depressive disorder, also known as dysthymia, is a chronic form of depression. It lasts for at least two years and is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness and a lack of interest in daily activities. If the symptoms of persistent depressive disorder significantly limit one’s ability to function, disability benefits may be an option.

Applying for Disability

Applying for Disability under the ADA

If you believe you have experienced discrimination in the workplace due to depression, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice. They can help address issues related to reasonable accommodations and ensure that your employer is following ADA guidelines in regards to your disability.

Applying for Disability under the SSA

If you are unable to work due to depression, you may be eligible for disability benefits through the SSA. To apply, you will need to gather relevant information, including medical records and documentation of your depression diagnosis. Completing the SSA application and providing comprehensive details about your disability and its impact on your daily functioning is crucial.

Steps to Apply for SSA Benefits

Step One: Gather Your Information

Collect all relevant medical records, including diagnoses, treatment history, and healthcare professionals’ statements supporting your disability claim. The more comprehensive your documentation, the stronger your case.

Step Two: The Application

Complete the SSA application accurately and provide detailed information about your depression symptoms, treatment, work history, and education. The application may also require you to include information about your ability to perform daily tasks and limitations you experience due to depression.

Step Three: The Review

The SSA will review your application and may request additional assessments or medical evaluations to further evaluate your disability claim. It is essential to promptly respond to any additional requests for information or exams to prevent delays in the review process.

Step Four: Application Processed

After the review process is complete, the SSA will make a decision regarding your eligibility for disability benefits. This process can take several months, so patience is essential.

Step Five: Notification

If approved, you will receive notification of your benefits and the amount you will receive. If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision through further steps, such as reconsideration and hearings before an administrative law judge.

Table Breakdown: Criteria for Depression Disability

Severity of Symptoms Duration of Symptoms Impact on Functioning
Severe symptoms Long-lasting symptoms Significant impact on work and daily life

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can depression be considered a disability?

Yes, depression can be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the criteria set by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

2. How does the severity of depression affect disability eligibility?

The severity of depression symptoms plays a significant role in determining disability eligibility. Severe symptoms that significantly impact daily functioning increase the chances of qualifying for disability benefits.

3. What financial assistance programs are available for individuals with depression?

Financial assistance programs for individuals with depression include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Medicaid.

4. What types of depression can qualify as a disability?

Major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and persistent depressive disorder are some types of depression that may qualify as disabilities, depending on the severity and impact on daily functioning.

5. Is it possible to work while receiving disability benefits for depression?

It is possible to work while receiving disability benefits for depression, but there are limitations and rules regarding the amount of income you can earn without affecting your benefits. Consult with the SSA for specific guidelines.

6. Can you apply for disability benefits based solely on depression?

Yes, you can apply for disability benefits based solely on depression. However, meeting the specific criteria set by the SSA, such as severity and duration, is crucial for eligibility.

7. How long does it take to receive a decision on a disability claim for depression?

The processing time for a disability claim for depression can vary. It may take several months due to the SSA’s review process, additional assessments or evaluations, and potential appeals if the initial claim is denied.

8. Do I need a healthcare professional’s statement to support my disability claim?

Having a healthcare professional’s statement supporting your disability claim can strengthen your case. It is beneficial to provide detailed medical records, treatment history, and any relevant opinions or assessments from healthcare professionals.

9. Can depression qualify as a disability for children and teenagers?

Yes, depression can qualify as a disability for children and teenagers. The SSA has specific criteria for determining disability in individuals under the age of 18.

10. How can I appeal a denial of disability benefits for depression?

If your disability claim for depression is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. The SSA provides steps for the appeals process, including reconsideration, hearings before an administrative law judge, and further appeals if necessary.


Understanding the connection between depression and disability is crucial for those experiencing this mental health condition. Depression can be considered a disability under the ADA and SSA guidelines, depending on the severity and impact on daily functioning. By exploring different financial assistance programs and applying for disability benefits, individuals with depression can receive support in their lives. Remember to gather comprehensive medical records, seek professional opinions, and provide accurate information during the application process. With the right support, you can navigate the challenges of depression while accessing the resources you need.

For more information and resources, be sure to check out our other articles on depression and related topics.


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