The short answer is yes. Severe debilitating depression can qualify you to receive federal disability benefits.
The Social Security Administration recognizes “depressive, bipolar and related disorders” as potentially permanently disabling conditions. The agency will not, however, approve any claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) unless the person suffering from depression can present extensive medical evidence that their mental illness is persistent, treatment-resistant, well-documented, and completely debilitating.
Additionally, qualifying for both SSDI and SSI mental illness benefits requires demonstrating significant financial hardship. SSI is a needs-based program, and only people with very little or no income, investments, and savings will have their SSI application approved. Consulting with an experienced and knowledgeable Ohio disability attorney will help you understand how much SSI pays and whether you should make the effort to apply.
To start at the beginning, only people who have paid into Social Security, or people who are dependents of parents or guardians who paid into the federal retirement and disability program, can claim SSDI and SSI benefits. Except in very limited circumstances, you must also be a U.S. citizen.
For SSDI and SSI purposes, symptoms of depression must have persisted for more than a year and not been relieved by medication or other forms of therapy and treatment. A psychologist or psychiatrist must also provide diagnostic, treatment and therapeutic notes that document how the depression has rendered the person who is applying for benefits unable to work and complete everyday tasks related to self-care.
Quoting from the Social Security website, depression usually only qualifies a person for disability benefits if they exhibit five of the symptoms on List A and at least two of the symptoms on List B.
Extreme limitation or marked limitation of the ability to
Some individuals who do not meet the listed criteria may still be able to qualify for SSDI and SSI benefits if the can document two or more years of unrelieved depression symptoms. This alternate means of qualifying highlights both the need to submit extensive medical evidence and to appeal an initial denial of benefits. Social Security officials look for any reason to reject an application. Accepting a no as the first and final decision rarely makes sense. Appealing with additional documentation often suffices to secure benefits.
The long-term disability attorneys in the Columbus, Ohio, offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman welcome opportunities to assist with applications for SSDI and SSI benefits. We also handle appeals and offer free initial consultations to potential clients. You can schedule an appointment online or call one of our lawyers at (614) 221-3318 or (800) 678-3318.