Different institutions have different criteria and definitions of disability. Some people with depression may get financial assistance if they can show how depression affects their capacity to work.

This article takes a close look at depression and disability. After explaining how different institutions define “disability,” it details sources of financial help for people whose depression qualifies as a disability. It also outlines the application process for this financial help.

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According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is a mental health condition that causes low mood. It can manifest in many different ways. The following are common symptoms of depression:

  • persistent low mood
  • low energy
  • fatigue
  • cognitive difficulties, including memory and concentration problems
  • a feeling of pessimism or hopelessness
  • sleep problems, including oversleeping and difficulty sleeping
  • suicidal ideation, which occurs in serious cases

As these symptoms make clear, depression can present a serious obstacle to undisrupted employment. A 2022 study explained that, on average, a person with depression finds themselves unable to work around 27.5 days per year.

In the United States, some institutions offer legal or financial support to people with disabilities. Since these institutions classify certain cases of depression as disabilities, they can help some people who have depression.

However, since different institutions define “disability” in different ways, this support can be quite uneven.

American Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) considers depression a disability.

According to the ADA, a disability is any mental or physical impairment that significantly reduces a person’s functioning, in at least one important area of life. Through its symptoms, depression can do exactly this.

Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers depression a disability in some situations. However, the SSA’s definition of “disability” does not resemble the ADA’s.

According to the SSA, for an individual to have a disability, they must earn less than $1,350 per month, or less than $2,260 if they are blind, and show that their impairment greatly reduces their capacity for basic work-related activities for a minimum of 12 months.

Moreover, SSA will consider someone to have a disability if the individual’s impairment:

  • makes the SSA’s list of impairments severe enough to prevent work
  • stopped them from working their previous job
  • prevents them from pursuing other suitable jobs

Although depression makes the SSA’s list of severe enough conditions, their definition of “disability” will nonetheless exclude some people with depression.

The ADA provides legal protections for people with disabilities.

The SSA provides financial assistance for people with disabilities. In some cases, people with depression may benefit from this assistance.

Social Security Administration

The SSA has two principal benefits for people with disabilities, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

As the SSA explains, SSDI entitles a person to up to four credits per year. The number of credits a person gets depends on the money from their past earnings. The SSDI entitles a person up to one credit per $1,510 earned.

SSDI credits can vary in amount. However, the SSA reports that, on average, a person with SSDI benefits receives the equivalent of around $1,362 per month.

SSI is for people who did not earn enough money to receive SSDI. With SSI, the SSA explains that an eligible person will receive monthly credits. Again, these credits can vary in amount. However, they cannot generally exceed $914.

The SSA does not award credits to everyone who applies for SSDI or for SSI. Indeed, in 2018, the SSA awarded disability credits to only 30.4% of all applicants. For those who do receive them, however, such credits may significantly relieve financial strain.


Medicaid can also assist people with depression, though not in the same way. Rather, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act means that Medicaid must provide financial assistance to eligible individuals that require mental health care.

This financial assistance is for accessing treatment. Therefore, Medicaid can help people with depression receive the treatment they need. With treatment, people who have depression might find it easier to continue working or return to work.

However, unlike the SSA, Medicaid cannot offer people credits on grounds of disability.

If an individual has depression, they may be eligible for financial assistance on grounds of disability. However, to receive any such assistance, the individual must first apply. According to the SSA, this process works in the same way for SSDI and SSI.

Required information

To apply for SSDI or SSI, a person must provide various information, including:

  • general information
  • material about the person’s impairment
  • employment history

General information includes:

  • date and place of birth
  • marriage and divorce status
  • bank details, which people can use for direct deposits

Medical information includes past:

  • examinations or treatments, with the names and contact details of whoever provided these
  • medical tests, including the names and contact details of whoever recommended them
  • medications or present ones, including information about who prescribed them and their reasons for doing so

Employment information includes:

  • employment details for the last 3 years
  • information about when depression began to create problems with work
  • the most common kinds of previous employment before depression made these impossible

The individual can provide this information in several ways. It could be online, over the phone, or in person. The SSA will then determine whether the individual qualifies for SSDI or SSI.

Depression can greatly diminish a person’s ability to work. In the United States, several institutions provide financial assistance to those whose depression prevents them from working. Medicaid can also assist in financing mental health care for depression.