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Depression can qualify you for disability benefits. Millions of people suffer from Depression, yet still manage to go to work and function in their daily lives.  Many people are diagnosed with Depression or Bipolar Disorder, but their symptoms are controlled with medication. Therefore, they are able to work.  When depressive symptoms become so severe that an individual cannot work or function in daily life, then they have a disability that qualifies for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits.

In order to know if you qualify for benefits, you should know SSA’s definition of disability. The SSA defines Depression by the severity of your symptoms. As such, if your symptoms are constant and impact working life, you may meet the criteria. The criteria is outlined below.


The SSA divides the symptoms of Depression into three categories in order to analyze the severity of an individual’s symptoms.  First, after a diagnosis of Depression or Bipolar Disorder, the SSA looks at your medical records to determine if you have five or more the symptoms listed below. Even if you have most of these symptoms, it is the severity that counts. For example, you may have difficulty concentrating. You need to show how that symptoms impacts your ability to work. Therefore, you could have a past employer write a letter about how you couldn’t follow instructions. Also, you could have your counselor confirm the problem in writing.

12.04 Depressive, bipolar and related disorders (see 12.00B3), satisfied by A and B, or A and C:


  1. Medical documentation of the requirements of paragraph 1 or 2:
    1. Depressive disorder, characterized by five or more of the following:
      1. Depressed mood;
      2. Diminished interest in almost all activities;
      3. Appetite disturbance with change in weight;
      4. Sleep disturbance;
      5. Observable psychomotor agitation or retardation;
      6. Decreased energy;
      7. Feelings of guilt or worthlessness;
      8. Difficulty concentrating or thinking; or
      9. Thoughts of death or suicide.
    2. Bipolar disorder, characterized by three or more of the following:
      1. Pressured speech;
      2. Flight of ideas;
      3. Inflated self-esteem;
      4. Decreased need for sleep;
      5. Distractibility;
      6. Involvement in activities that have a high probability of painful consequences that are not recognized; or
      7. Increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation.

Next, the SSA determines how the symptoms of depression impact you in your ability to function in the workplace and in your daily activities by looking at the Part B and Part C criteria, which are listed below.



  1. Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning (see 12.00F):
    1. Understand, remember, or apply information (see 12.00E1).
    2. Interact with others (see 12.00E2).
    3. Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace (see 12.00E3).
    4. Adapt or manage oneself (see 12.00E4).



  1. Your mental disorder in this listing category is “serious and persistent;” that is, you have a medically documented history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least 2 years, and there is evidence of both:
    1. Medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or a highly structured setting(s) that is ongoing and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of your mental disorder (see 12.00G2b); and

2.   Marginal adjustment, that is, you have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life (see 12.00G2c).TBI brain injury for disability


The Part B criteria or the severity of your symptoms should be supported by treatment records. Treatment records are written by your psychologist or psychiatrist.  This is also true of documenting the Part C criteria for a Judge. You will need records showing ongoing treatment for two years. Likewise, during the appeal process you will need to have records for Disability Determination Services.

If you are only being treated with medication, it is important to find a counselor with the proper credentials to support your disability claim.  The SSA considers a psychologist and psychiatrist to be the best sources of evidence about Depression.  However, they also consider medical evidence from  Nurse Practitioners, counselors, and therapists.  Over all, having an ongoing relationship with your doctor, nurse, and therapist will help you win your case.

The SSA may send you to see a psychologist. This is called a Consultative Exam. The evaluation is done at no cost to you. However, a Psychological Evaluation may not given as much weight by the Judge as evidence from your treating source. Your treating doctor sees you on a weekly or monthly basis. Therefore, they know more about your Depression. If you do not have insurance or money to see a treating source, we have a list of free and low-cost services on our website.

Remember, without medical evidence, you will not be able to win your claim for disability benefits. If you have any questions about whether your Depression qualifies you for disability benefits, contact us. The best thing you can do to help yourself throughout the disability process, and to help your mental health, is to obtain ongoing mental health treatment. Likewise, the next best think you can do is to hire an attorney with the experience to win your case.


At Cannon Disability Law, we have 30 years of experience. During those 30 years, we have won over $100 million in disability benefits for our clients. Don’t go to court without a Social Security Disability attorney, because the SSA judge is not on your side.

For example, the judge may call a medical expert. The medical expert is there is testify as to whether your depression meets the 12.04 listing criteria. Also, the judge may call a vocational expert to testify in court. The vocational expert is a person who has gone to school to learn about the definition of jobs. Usually, the vocational expert also has experience placing people in different kinds of jobs in the national economy.

With experts in court, you need a legal team that is on your side. Your representative can cross-examine the experts that the judge calls to court. Also, your SSD attorney will prepare you to testify on your own behalf at the disability hearing. If you don’t have an attorney who has done to court before the SSA, then they don’t have the experience you need. We have won over 20,000 SSD cases in the last 30 years. We can help you win the disability benefits you deserve.


We offer a free consultation. We also represent clients from all over the western United States. Additionally, we represent clients in Utah and offer information about Utah disability benefitsNevada disability information can be found here. Likewise, information about California disability benefits is here. We can help you file your application for benefits at Social Security’s website. No matter where you file your application for benefits, we can help. We also represent clients in Idaho, Colorado and Arizona.

Hire an attorney without worrying about whether you can pay attorney fees. At Cannon Disability, we work on a contingency fee basis. This means if you do not win benefits, you do not owe an attorney fee. Our attorney fees are capped at $6000 and 25% of the back benefit, whichever is less. $6000 is the most me can charge. However, most cases do not cost the client $6000.

Instead, the client will pay upon winning benefits, whatever is less. So, if your back due benefits are $10,000, the attorney fee would be $2500. We do not charge an attorney fee out of your future benefits. And, if we do not win your benefits, you do not owe any attorney fee. Therefore, hiring us to represent you creates no financial risk for you. When we win benefits, the attorney fee comes from your back due disability payments. Hire a Social Security Disability team near you. Contact Cannon Disability Law today and choose us to be your disability legal team.


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