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Can You Get Disability Benefits for Depression or Anxiety in Arkansas?


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Depression and anxiety are some of the most common mental health problems that people face throughout Arkansas and throughout the country. Many people suffering from the symptoms of these kinds of conditions might think that their condition is not severe, or that it is too common to count as a disability. You may be surprised to learn that many workers with disability and anxiety disorders in Arkansas might qualify for disability benefits.

Fayetteville disability lawyer Ken Kieklak explains when anxiety and depression can qualify you for disability benefits in Arkansas. For help understanding your claim and ensuring that your claim is filed properly, contact Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law for help with your case. Ken Kieklak offers free consultations to get you started on your claim for disability benefits. Call our law offices today at (479) 316-0438 to get started.

Do Depression and Anxiety Qualify as “Disabilities”?

In the U.S., the Social Security Administration (SSA) operates two disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The first program is for workers with a history of paying Social Security taxes, and it pays them benefits for disabilities. People without a sufficient work history may be able to claim need-based disability through SSI instead. Regardless of which program you choose, the process for applying requires you to have a severe disability.

The first thing to check with a disability is whether your condition is covered by the SSA’s Listing of Impairments. This Listing has a section specifically for mental disorders, which includes one listing for “Depressive, bipolar and related disorders” and a second listing for “Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders.”

The SSA defines each of these conditions to determine what qualifies and whether the symptoms and effects are severe enough to get disability benefits. These definitions are typically close to the medical definitions or the definitions used in the DSM-5, but they may have some differences based on the “severity” factor.


The SSA defines “Depressive disorder” as a disorder with at least 5 of the following symptoms:

  • “Depressed mood”
  • Lowered interest in activities
  • Problems with appetite that include weight changes
  • Trouble sleeping
  • “Observable psychomotor agitation or retardation”
  • Low energy
  • “Feelings of guilt or worthlessness”
  • Trouble thinking or concentrating or
  • Suicidal thoughts

While these symptoms help establish whether you are depressed or not, they do not, for the most part, speak to the severity of your condition. In addition to these elements, you must meet one of the following conditions to show your condition is “severe”:

  • “Extreme limitation” in your ability to understand or use info, interact with others, concentrate, or adapt and manage yourself
  • “[M]arked limitation” in two of the following: the ability to understand or use info, interact with others, concentrate, or adapt and manage yourself
  • The condition is “serious and persistent,” has lasted at least 2 years, and includes medical or mental health treatment to help with symptoms along with severe difficulty adjusting to the demands of day-to-day life


To prove you have anxiety disorder, you must meet the SSA’s definition, which includes at least 3 of the following symptoms:

  • “Restlessness
  • Easily fatigued
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension or
  • Sleep disturbances”

Again, you must meet the additional criteria listed above to show that your condition is severe enough to receive disability benefits.

Disability Benefits for Anxiety and Depression

If you have depression or anxiety to a degree that qualifies you for disability benefits, you can receive ongoing benefits to help support you. Most people with severe disabilities are not able to work to support themselves and their families, and disability may be their only option to afford living expenses like rent and groceries.

The benefits that you receive depend on which program you apply to. People with a work history can often receive SSDI benefits, which are typically a bit higher than SSI benefits and equate to what your Social Security retirement benefits would be later in life.

You may be able to get additional benefits to help support your family as well. Minor children in your care, your spouse, and even a divorced spouse may be able to get additional benefits totaling up to 50% or 80% of your total benefits (for a grand total of 150-180%).

If the person applying for disability is a child or young adult, they may be able to qualify on their parent’s record. Any disabled child under 18 can typically claim SSDI benefits through their parent’s work record. Alternatively, an adult child disabled before they turn 22 might be able to qualify as well. Children under 18 have slightly different medical definitions and definitions of “severity” for qualifying conditions.

Talk to a lawyer for more information about what disability benefits you might be able to receive.

Call Our Arkansas Disability Lawyer for Anxiety and Depression Benefits Today

If you or a loved one is suffering from severe depression or anxiety and needs help applying for disability benefits, call Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, today. Our Fayetteville disability attorney may be able to take your case and fight to get you approved for ongoing disability benefits to support you through your severe depression or anxiety disorder. To schedule a free legal consultation, call our law offices today at (479) 316-0438.

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