Can depression be a factor in a Social Security Disability claim?

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2024 | Social Security Disability

It’s very difficult to adjust to life with a disability, and it’s not unusual for people who have disabilities – whether due to a chronic condition or a traumatic accident – to also develop depression. 

Physical disabilities and depression can actually be part of a vicious cycle, with each exacerbating the symptoms of the other. The physical loss of your independence and the limitations you experience can trigger a shift in your whole identity, intensifying any feelings of sadness, hopelessness and isolation you may have. In turn, depression can reduce your motivation, increase your sensitivity to pain and affect your ability to concentrate – limiting you even more.

It’s wisest to think of depression as a separate condition 

A lot of Social Security Disability (SSD) claimants who have physical disabilities either don’t even think to mention their depression on their applications for benefits or assume that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will automatically recognize that depression is a factor based on their medical records.

Unfortunately, that is not how the process works. When you file for SSD benefits, you need to list all conditions that affect your ability to work on your application – even if they are not the primary reason you consider yourself to be disabled. That way, SSA is obligated to take into account the additional limitations imposed by your mental health when they decide your claim.

It’s also good to remember that depression can be disabling in its own right, regardless of someone’s relative physical health. In some cases, people find it easier to obtain SSD benefits for their depression than they do for some physical disabilities, including back pain. 

If you’re struggling to get your Social Security disability claim approved, there is help available. Learning more about what it takes to make a successful claim can help you overcome an unfair denial.