Can I claim benefits if I leave my job due to depression?

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In this blog we will explore whether you can claim unemployment benefits if you leave your job due to depression. 

We will also explore what are the eligibility criteria for benefits claims and whether leaving your job voluntarily can impact your claim. 

Can I claim benefits if I leave my job due to depression?

Yes, you can claim unemployment benefits if you leave your job and become unemployed due to depression. 

However, for you to claim unemployment you must meet a criteria set by Unemployment laws that evaluate the duration of your employment, steps taken previously to accommodate you condition, your earnings, and the circumstances of your departure.

In countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, Clinical depression is considered a disability when it impacts a person’s ability to function and meet the demands of their day to day life. 

The symptoms of depression that last on most days for at least two weeks include:

  • persistent sadness
  • hopelessness and emptiness
  • irritability and anxiety
  • appetite changes
  • sudden weight gain or loss
  • feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • unexplained aches and pains
  • insomnia or oversleeping
  • excessive fatigue
  • concentration difficulties
  • memory problems
  • suicidal thoughts or behaviors

The symptoms of depression impacts both cognition, behaviour, and overall functioning of lie and can make it hard for people to work even when they are undertreatment. 

Due to the overarching impact it has on one’s quality of life, countries like the US and the UK consider it a disability and people of working ages- 15 to pension age who have depression and other mental health conditions are protected by the Disability Act that also ensures their claim to unemployment benefits should they leave or lose their jobs. 

To be able to claim unemployment benefits the process of claiming differs according to country policies and processes however, there is an underlying theme of meeting a certain criteria and also providing evidence in the form of medical records to prove the state of disability caused by depression. 

To claim unemployment benefits, you must prove the following:

  • Have a medically documented health condition such as depression
  • Lost your job because of medically verified diagnosis of depression 

To prove the following you must have a medical documented cause which means having documents that show that you have been to the doctor during the tie of your employment and you have been diagnosed with depression. 

Depending on the employment agency of our country, they will review your situation as well as the circumstances of your condition and might even do a medical assessment of their on to check your eligibility for unemployment claims. 

What are the eligibility criteria to claim benefits for depression?

In the United States the eligibility criteria for unemployment claims depends on state laws and these criteria check for how many weeks of benefits an unemployed worker can collect.

To Understand the criteria for eligibility for unemployment benefits, check your sate unemployment websites for proper information. 

In most states the criteria includes:

  • You will need a history of being employed for a certain period of time (usually one year), meeting minimum earnings requirements of the state. 
  • You unemployment or loss of job should not have been caused by any fault of your own and should have been caused by factors that are beyond the control of the individual like a lay off or a medical condition. 
  • If you have chosen to quit your job for a good cause which includes a medical condition that made you unfit to be able to meet the demands of your job- this includes mental health conditions such as depression that is considered a disability. 

  • if you were wrongly terminated from your position- such as due to your disability, or forced to quit, you might qualify for unemployment based on the evidence you provide. 

In the UK, You can claim unemployment benefits for mental health under the Employment Support Allowance. 

The eligibility criteria for availing ESA includes the following. These criteria have been referred from the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) Gov.UK website.

You can apply for ‘new style’ Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you’re under State Pension age and you have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work.

You also need to have both:

  • worked as an employee or have been self-employed
  • paid enough National Insurance contributions, usually in the last 2 to 3 years – National Insurance credits also count

You are eligible if you get Universal Credit, you could get ‘new style’ ESA at the same time however, you get both benefits, your Universal Credit payment is reduced by the amount you get for ‘new style’ ESA.

You can apply for ‘new style’ ESA up to 3 months before your SSP ends. You’ll start getting ‘new style’ ESA as soon as your SSP ends.

What are the reasons You May Not Qualify for benefits claim?

In the US, the following reasons might disqualify you from collecting unemployment benefits:

  • Fired for misconduct
  • Quit without good cause
  • Self-employed
  • Involved in a labour dispute
  • Attending school
  • Frequent unexcused absences
  • Insubordination
  • Harassment

In the UK, you may not qualify for unemployment benefits like the ESA if; you claim Jobseeker’s Allowance or claim Statutory Sick Pay.

What are the benefits you can claim due to depression?

In the UK, if you have been diagnosed with depression you can claim the following benefits:

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

If you struggle with everyday tasks due to depression you can claim PIP. Tasks include activities such as 

  • planning and following journeys
  • engaging with other people
  • making budgeting decisions

You will have to provide evidence of disability caused by depression from: 

  • a psychiatrist, GP or community nurse
  • a social worker
  • As well as a witness. 

Attendance Allowance (AA)

You could get Attendance Allowance for your mental health condition such as depression if you:

  • are over State Pension age
  • need support, such as keeping yourself safe, during the day or night

Universal Credit (UC)

If you have less than £16,000 in savings, and are unemployed due to your medical condition such as depression, you might be able to claim Universal Credit.

You will have to submit a claim, send across fit notes that attest to your inability to work and also go through work capability assessment then put into various categories based on your assessment. 

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

If your diagnosis of depression has rendered you unemployed in the UK, You could get a ‘new style’ ESA if you’ve paid enough National Insurance contributions in the last 2 or 3 years. 

The process of claiming New Style ESA is as follows:

  • submitting a claim for ESA
  • filling out the work capability form (ESA50)
  • Work Capability Assessment (WCA)

New style ESA is assessed the same way as Universal Credit. However, it does not consider the following:

  • your savings
  • your partner’s savings
  • household income (except pensions)

In the United States, if your medical condition such as depression has renewed you unfit for work and unemployment these are the following benefits that you can claim. 

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

To qualify for the program, you must:

  • prove you haven’t been able to work for at least 12 months
  • have paid Social Security through paycheck deductions for the last 5 out of 10 years

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

You may qualify for SSI benefits in addition to SSDI in the case that you have clinical depression and also low income or less assets. 

The eligibility criteria include:

  • a proven inability to work due to depression 
  • low income based on where you live
  • fewer than $2,000 in assets, excluding your home, car, burial savings, and wedding rings
  • if you’re married, your spouse must also have a low income, 


Medicaid provides low-cost healthcare to people with a low income. You can qualify for it after 2 years of having SSDI. 

Will I lose out on benefits if I leave my job voluntarily?

If you quit your job voluntarily due to various reasons such as mental health conditions like depression and apply for benefits, you are most likely to be penalised by the loss of benefits for around three months unless you have evidence that the sudden resignation is because of good cause. 

This means that without good cause you will not receive benefits for three months based on the circumstances of how you resigned and left your job and the evidence that you put forward as good cause. 

You will need evidence to show why you left your job which will include a medical document from your doctor regarding your diagnosis that caused you to quit as well as any evidence that shows that you had made efforts to accommodate our condition within the workplace before quitting.


In this blog we will explore whether you can claim unemployment benefits if you leave your job due to depression. 

We will also explore what are the eligibility criteria for benefits claims and whether leaving your job voluntarily can impact your claim. 

FAQ related to Can I claim benefits if I leave my job due to depression

Can you leave work for depression?

You can leave if you are struggling with depression and the symptoms of your medically diagnosed depression is making it hard for you to work. 

You will need documentation from your health care provider to get an FMLA-approved medical leave of absence for depression. 

Can I quit work due to mental health?

If you have a medical diagnosis that makes you unfit to work and you have made various efforts to communicate the state of your mental health as well as have made efforts to accommodate your condition, you can quit your job and also be eligible for unemployment claims until you get better and find a new job. 

How do you qualify for stress leave?

Here are the following circumstances that make you eligible for stress leave at work:

  • You cannot perform your work tasks.
  • Stress levels are affecting your quality of work.
  • Work-related stress affects your personal life.
  • Your doctor recognises symptoms of depression or anxiety in you.

Can I claim unemployment benefits if I leave my job?

You can claim benefits as soon as you know the date of your last day at work. You’ll need to prove you had a good reason for resigning such as a medical document or else you will have to pay a penalty of three months benefits. 


Will I lose out on benefits if I leave my job voluntarily? Worksmart. Retrieved on 8th Dec 2021.

Benefits and mental health. ScopeOrgUK. Retrieved on 8th Dec 2021.

Does Depression Make You Eligible for Disability? Verywellmind. Retrieved on 8th Dec 2021.

How to Tell if You Are Eligible for Unemployment Benefits. Thebalancedcareers. Retrieved on 8th Dec 2021.

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