Advice for securing disability benefits due to severe depression

Depression is the leading cause of disability among nonfatal medical conditions in the United States. Depression is a type of mood disorder characterized by gloom, sadness, feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy. Depending on the severity, it can cripple an individual both mentally and physically, making it difficult for them to maintain a daily routine such as going to work every day. Here is some expert advice for how to successfully obtain disability benefits due to severe depression.


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  • research the disability criteria for depression
  • keep a journal
  • pay attention to frequency
  • see a psychiatrist or psychologist
  • note any other impairments that limit your ability to work

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  • assume they won’t investigate
  • assume it’s going to be easy
  • switch up your routine
  • use the words always or never
  • be afraid to appeal

[publishpress_authors_data]'s recommendation to ExpertBeacon readers: Do

Do research the disability criteria for depression

Insurance companies won’t automatically qualify you for disability benefits as soon as the doctor labels you depressed. If they did, we likely wouldn’t have a workforce. To qualify for disability benefits, an individual with depression must meet certain criteria or be granted a medical-vocational allowance based on the severity of their depression and a combination of other factors, such as work history, other medical conditions, age, and education level. The number of criteria you must meet varies, but on average you would need to show 4-5 from the list.

Do keep a journal

Not only is keeping a journal good for your personal road to recovery, but it’s also great to have when filing a claim. Write down how you are feeling each day. Note things such as lack of interest in an activity you once loved, insomnia or even overeating. Frequency of treatment, intensity of symptoms and how severely compromised you are when documented is great evidence.

Do pay attention to frequency

While the insurance company will still want to see proof of severe symptoms, the time you have been suffering from depression makes a huge difference in qualifying. If you’ve experienced recurrent episodes of depression for at least two years, they might qualify you even if your depression has improved due to either medication or counseling support. The key here is being able to show that you will experience a more severe setback if you change your routine, including going back to work full-time.

Do see a psychiatrist or psychologist

Again, not only is this vital to your recovery, it’s a requirement for obtaining disability benefits through a private disability policy. While Social Security doesn’t require a doctor’s input to qualify, your insurance company will. They will want documentation from your doctor, to talk to your doctor and to see his or her notes along with a medication summary.

Do note any other impairments that limit your ability to work

If you have any other impairment that limits your ability to work, make sure to make note of it when you file a claim. This is especially true if it has caused or been worsened by your depression. Doing this will exponentially increase your chances of being granted benefits because it puts a “physical” aspect to an otherwise not-so-physical disability.

[publishpress_authors_data]'s professional advice to ExpertBeacon readers: Don't

Do not assume they won’t investigate

Prepare your doctor, friends, family, co-workers, neighbor, and the woman you dated 5 years ago. The insurance company will track people down and interview them as part of their investigation. They will also be staked outside your house watching to make sure that every bit of what you said when filing a claim is truthful. If you said you can only get out of the house for 10 minutes each day, then they will want to document that themselves. If you are so depressed why did your carrier videotape you laughing, drinking and dancing at that outdoor party you attended?

Do not assume it’s going to be easy

Truthfully, getting disability (especially long-term disability) from depression alone is difficult to do unless you can prove that you’ve had severe, disabling depression and you are on significant medications. You need to be prepared to fight an uphill battle. Have the evidence to back up your claim and always be thinking of how each piece of evidence demonstrates your inability to work.

Do not switch up your routine

For some suffering from depression filing for disability will cause them tremendous stress. For others it might serve as a beacon of hope. Whatever the case, be careful that you don’t let them only see the “good days”. It’s easy for an outsider who hasn’t been there through the months or even years of ups and downs to mistake a “good day” for you being fine.

Do not use the words always or never

This is true no matter what type of disability you are applying for. These words are tricky and get you into a trap you can’t get out of. While it’s tempting to say that you can “never” work out anymore or that you “never” drive anymore, don’t do it. One example of you working out or driving and your credibility is shot.

Do not be afraid to appeal

Appealing a disability claim can be tough, especially for someone suffering from depression that has just faced another setback. However, don’t be afraid to do and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Get a top rated disability lawyer on your side. This will help ease the stress and it statistically improves your chances of winning your appeal.


Depression is a serious and crippling disability. It can take over someone’s life and make it very difficult for them to perform the most basic daily routines, such as eating and sleeping. Those suffering from severe depression should obtain professional help to get them on the road to recovery. They also shouldn’t be afraid to apply for disability when their depression becomes so severe they are unable to work.

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