Biased emotion processing in depression might be a trait characteristic independent of mood improvement and a vulnerable factor to develop further depressive episodes. This phenomenon of among older adults with depression has not been adequately examined. In a 2-year cross-sectional study, 59 older patients with either active or remitted major depression, or never-depressed, completed a facial emotion recognition task (FERT) to probe perceptual bias of happiness. The results showed that depressed patients, compared with never depressed subjects, had a significant lower sensitivity to identify happiness particularly at moderate intensity of facial stimuli. Patients in remission from a previous major depressive episode but with none or minimal symptoms had similar sensitivity rate to identify happy facial expressions as compared to patients with an active depressive episode. Further studies would be necessary to confirm whether recognition of happy expression reflects a persistent perceptual bias of major depression in older adults.