Depression and anxiety afflict a large number of people in south central Alabama. Sometimes, the illness can significantly interfere with a person’s ability to work. Many people wonder if depression can be the basis for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. The answer is “yes” if the person suffering from the illness can satisfy certain requirements imposed by the federal Social Security Administration.

The most important criterion is showing that the depression is both total and permanent. Showing that depression is “permanent” requires proof that the depressed state is in fact permanent or that the condition is expected cause death within 12 months. Depression rarely results in death, but it often deemed to be incurable, i.e. permanent. Showing that that the depression is total requires proof that the claimant is unable to engage in any “substantial gainful activity” by reason of the depression. Substantial gainful activity is defined as a specified amount of income for one month. In 2020, the limit on income is “$1,260;” that is, a person who can earn more than $1,260 per month will not be deemed to be totally disabled. The income limit for people who are blind is $2,110 per month.

Proving that the depression is both permanent and totally disabling must be done with objective medical evidence from an “acceptable medical source.” The source is usually a licensed physician or, in the case of depression, a licensed psychiatrist. The SSA may request an additional examination if its review of the evidence leaves questions in the mind of the reviewer.

Most disability claims are initially denied. The SSA regulations permit several levels of appeals, and the assistance of an attorney who is knowledgeable about the SSDI claims process can be a significant help in preparing and filing the initial claim and in taking any necessary appellate steps.