Before approving benefits, the Social Security Administration requires disability applicants to have a well-documented and “severe” medical impairment. If a condition does not appear debilitating enough, you may see your initial Social Security Disability Insurance claim denied. 

An appeal, however, could provide another chance to demonstrate that a combination of disorders prevents you from working. Many serious illnesses and physical injuries result in an onset of severe depression or anxiety. If the SSA did not consider a secondary condition at first, your appeal may provide an opportunity to prove how it prevents you from working. 

Severe and debilitating mental health symptoms 

Under trying circumstances, stress, depression and anxiety can become part of the day-to-day norm. When impairment results, however, you may require treatment or therapy. 

Documenting appointments, diagnoses and medications may prove the severity of your condition. Symptoms of a debilitating mental illness may include severe depression, inability to concentrate, anxiety and isolation. If your health care provider has diagnosed a serious mental health condition, the SSA may have overlooked this aspect of your overall impairment. 

Severity of impairment and the ability to work 

The SSA defines severity based on your ability to return to work. As noted by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a claim denial could reflect several reasons. 

The most common reason for denial is that the SSA determined your condition does not qualify as severe. If you can walk and stand, the SSA may not consider you impaired. Another reason for a denial is that the SSA determined that your condition does not prevent you from performing work other than what you did at your previous job. If you could work at a different job, the SSA may not consider your condition as severe. 

The right to an appeal if rejected 

SSDI provides financial benefits to individuals who can no longer work. You may exercise your right to an appeal if your initial claim meets with a rejection. To win your appeal, however, you may need to show medically verified proof of how a physical condition or a subsequent mental health issue prevents you from working.