Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions that can qualify someone for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. If your depression severely limits your ability to function and work, you may be eligible for monthly disability payments from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

What Causes Depression? 

Depression results from a complex combination of genetic, biological, psychological, and environmental factors. Common triggers include traumatic life events, chronic illness, brain chemistry imbalances, and family history of the disorder. Hormonal fluctuations and seasonal patterns can also play a role.

Diagnosing Depression 

Mental health professionals diagnose depression based on criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This involves evaluating the presence of symptoms like persistent sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, appetite/sleep disturbances, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, and suicidal thoughts over an extended period of time.

Treating Depression 

While depression can be a life-long condition, it is manageable with proper treatment. Approaches include psychotherapy (“talk therapy”), antidepressant medications, complementary therapies like exercise and mindfulness, brain stimulation therapies, and lifestyle changes. Most people respond best to a combination of treatments.

How Depression Can Qualify for Disability Benefits

 The SSA has specific requirements for when depression may be considered a qualifying disability for SSDI or SSI. Generally, your depression must significantly limit your mental ability to perform basic work activities for at least 12 continuous months.

The SSA’s disability evaluation guide (the Blue Book) includes a listing for depressive, bipolar and related disorders. You may automatically meet the criteria with medical documentation of factors like:

  • Appetite/sleep disturbance causing weight change
  • Diminished interest in almost all activities
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • Feelings of guilt/worthlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Memory/cognitive impairments
  • Social withdrawal
  • Inability to do basic home/personal care activities

How to Apply for Disability Benefits for Depression in Florida

There are a few different ways to begin the application process for SSDI or SSI benefits based on depression in Florida:

  • Apply Online: You can file applications for SSDI or SSI online at This is often the   quickest method to start your depression disability claim.
  • Call the SSA Toll-Free Number : To begin a claim over the phone, call the Social Security Administration at: 1-800-772-1213.
  • Visit Your Local Social Security Office
    You can apply in person at your closest SSA field office in Florida. Some of the offices in major metro areas include:
    • Miami – 7550 SW 117th Ave 
    • Tampa – 6301 Florida Ave
    • Orlando – 5971 Goshen St 
    • Jacksonville – 7825 Baymeadows Way

    What You Need to Apply for SSDI or SSI Benefits in Florida

     Regardless of how you start your application, be prepared to provide:

    • Details about your depression diagnosis, symptoms and treatments
    • Supporting medical records and doctor’s notes
    • Information about other conditions affecting your ability to work
    • Employment history and job duties
    • Banking details for any direct deposit of benefits

    The more thorough documentation and evidence you can include upfront, the easier it will be for the SSA to properly evaluate your depression disability claim. An experienced social security disability lawyer can assist you in gathering all required information.

    Application Timeframes for Initial SSDI and SSI Applications for Depression Claims in Florida 

    After submitting an initial disability application for depression, it typically takes 3-6 months to receive an initial determination from the SSA in Florida. Unfortunately, due to high claim volumes and staffing issues, these wait times are often much longer – 12-18 months in many parts of the state.

    Chances Your SSDI or SSI Application for Depression will be Approved in Florida

    At the Initial Level Nationally, around 67% of initial SSDI claims for depression and other mental disorders are denied each year by the SSA. In Florida, the chances of having a depression claim approved right away are similarly low, often less than 30%. Many valid claims are rejected due to insufficient medical documentation or the failure to properly connect symptoms to listed impairment criteria.

    Chances of Your SSDI or SSI Depression Claim Being Approved at a Hearing

    The majority of depression-based disability claims that are initially denied end up being approved after a hearing before an administrative law judge – around 60% receive benefits at this appeals stage. At a hearing, you can provide additional supporting medical evidence, expert testimony, and a more in-depth explanation of how your depression meets listing requirements.

    The Importance of a Disability Lawyer 

    While you are not legally required to have representation for a disability claim, the assistance of an experienced Social Security disability lawyer can greatly improve the likelihood of your depression case being approved – especially at the hearing level. Qualified disability attorneys understand how to:

    • Compile the specific medical evidence needed to satisfy SSA criteria
    • Obtain supportive opinions from your treatment providers
    • Articulate legal arguments connecting your impairments to a listing
    • Handle all paperwork, filings, and hearing procedures

    If you are unable to work due to severe, chronic depression in Florida, consulting with a disability lawyer in your area can greatly increase your chances of eventually being awarded the SSDI or SSI benefits you need and deserve. Contact Disability Advocates Group today for a free consultation.