A Social Security Hackensack NJ attorney with Social Security disability hearing tips for claimants says depression is the primary, usually nonfatal disabling medical condition in the United States. The various forms (major, dysthymia, and manic) are mood disorders manifested by feelings and expressions of dismay, sadness, inadequacy, and despair. With these emotions, the depressed often suffer from low energy levels and chronic fatigue.
When it comes to causes, there seem to be physiological and genetic as well as environmental and situational factors for depression. Some families seem to display a predisposition towards depression that afflicts members across generations. Unduly stressful events also can be a precipitating causes of the disability.
Depression can be in reaction to the death of a parent, sibling, or child, to a divorce, or to an involuntary termination of employment, but these externalities cause periods of depression mostly temporary and short-lived. If an episode with severe daily manifestations of depression lasts more than two weeks, the condition may qualify as a major clinical depression. Such pathological states disable the ability to cope with challenges and stresses of daily life or to function effectively in trades and professions or in family affairs.
To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, a claimant with depression must meet certain disability criteria listed in the Social Security impairment manual or obtain approval for a medical-vocational allowance according to a combination of the severity of the depressed state and on the presence of other impairments, on employment history, on age, and on educational attainment.
Disability Listing for Depression
The Social Security Administration publishes a list of common, serious illnesses for which afflicted claimants can qualify for disability benefits if they satisfy specific criteria. The list facilitates and expedites the qualification process so claimants with severely disabling conditions can receive benefits quickly. Impairment Listing 12.04 under “Affective Disorders” covers depression. To qualify for either Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits for depression, the claimant must present at least four of the following specific symptoms:
- Disinterest or lack of enjoyment in most activities,
- Low energy levels,
- Anorexia or binge eating,
- Insomnia or excessive sleep,
- Impaired mental concentration or focus,
- Immobility or indolence,
- Feelings of shame, guilt, or regret,
- Paranoid delusions or hallucinations, or
- Contemplations of suicide.
In addition to the presentation of symptoms, the Administration requires claimants to show that depression causes them serious difficulties in
- Everyday life activities,
- Social functions,
- Focus on thoughts, or
- Decompensation in extended periods of progressively aggravated symptoms.
As an example, a claimant diagnosed with depression who doesn’t relate well with others, can’t focus on simple tasks, and has difficulty maintaining personal hygiene might qualify for the depression disability listing.
A claimant who endures recurrent episodes of depression over at least two years might qualify for disability if the depression responds well to antidepressant medication or to intensive social support, but recovery is only tentative and a setback predictable if the claimant returns to work or changes a daily routine.
Claimants regularly seeing psychiatrists or psychologists should have comprehensive records of their symptoms. If not, they can track their conditions on self-rated depression scales.
Qualifying Without the Impairment Listing
The impairment listing isn’t the only way to obtain disability benefits for depression. Instead, claimants can be granted a “medical-vocational allowance,” which in fact is how the Administration approves most disability claims for depression.
To determine whether to grant disability benefits under a medical-vocational allowance, the Administration considers how depression symptoms affect the ability to do unskilled work that demands abilities to
- Comprehend, remember, and execute simple instructions,
- Make simple decisions necessary for the work,
- Respond properly to supervision and cooperate with co-workers, and
- Adapt to changes in routine.
If depression is the only impairment claimed on the disability application, an award of benefits is a long shot unless the condition is a major case, severe, and obviously disabling. But with a concomitant physical or another mental impairment in addition to depression, there is a better chance for benefits.
If the Administration decides that the mental impairment makes even simple, unskilled work impossible, the claimant will receive disability benefits. If the Administration decides that the claimant has the mental and emotional ability to do unskilled work but that a physical impairment requires sedentary work, the claimant could receive disability benefits if not qualified to do any available sedentary jobs.
Appeals from Denial of Benefits for Depression
Claimants denied benefits but feel their cases have enough merit for success on appeal should consider contacting disability lawyers for Social Security disability hearing tips. Appellants represented by lawyers have better success rates than do those who represent themselves.
Consult Our Social Security Hackensack NJ Disability Attorneys
Many disabled workers unable to do their usual jobs for 12 months or more don’t even bother to apply for disability benefits to help them through hard times because they do not understand that they still can do other jobs while receiving Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security disability attorneys at Hermann Law Group LLP can help claimants with Social Security disability hearing tips so they understand the complex process and assist and represent them in navigating its full course. The Social Security Administration denies about 65 percent of all initial claims, but only a minority of claimants appeal from their denials. The rest seem to be so confused by the process or discouraged by the first denial that they give up in frustration. Our Social Security disability attorneys have 50 years of experience in helping and representing Social Security Disability claimants successfully. Call 877-773-3030 today to schedule a free case consultation.